Following A causal link can be found between social

Following the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio, 1992, sustainable development has become an internationally
accepted key word for political discourse committed to quality of life, the
conservation of natural resources including a sense of obligation for future
generations (Becker, 1999). While the concept of sustainable development
generally refers to achieving a balance among the environmental, economic and
social pillars of sustainability, the meaning and associated objectives of the
social pillar remain vague and are often overlooked. (Dempsey et al.) Many of
those referring to social sustainability draw upon the definition provided in
the Brundtland Report: ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations’ (WCED, 1987, p. 40).  In a discussion
surrounding sustainability, Sachs(1999) identifies a number of constituent
elements including social capital, equitable incomes and access to goods,
services and employment. Social capital is recognised as an important topic
within the discipline of sociology as it identifies the importance of social
interactions, which govern day-to-day lives, and improve socio-political and
economic outcomes and sustainable development.

Margit Eichler states, sustainability provides important
themes in sociological enquiry. (Eichler, 1999). The first systematic contemporary
analysis of social capital was produced by Pierre Bourdieu. He saw the benefits
that individuals could gain from possessing social capital as a result of
forming a strong set of social relationships. He attempted to demonstrate how
class distinctions are constructed, created and reproduced by the
inter-connections between different spheres of economic, political and cultural
life. He defines the concept as ‘the aggregate of the actual or potential
resources which are linked to the possession of a durable network of
institutionalised relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition’
(Bordieu, 1985 pg, 248). This analysis is arguably the most theoretically
refined among contemporary sociological discourse as his treatment of the
concept is instrumental, focusing on the benefits accuring to individuals by
virtue of participation in groups and deliberate construction of sociability;

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A causal link can be found between social capital and
sustainable development. Empirical evidence suggests that the activities which
foster social capital (e.g. face-to-face communication and civic engagements)
have the ability to improve the quality of inter-personal relationships,
creating cooperation rather than conflict. (Killerby, 2001). Brown and Harris
(1978) conducted their research demonstrating a positive relationship between
social networks and health related issues. In their results, they found that
women who have a close confidant, i.e. a strong informal tie that they can turn
to during traumatic life events, are less likely to become depressed as they
feel integrated within their society and have strong support systems. This
illustrating the idea that informal social networks are invariably good to
ensure a stable mental health. (Ferlander,2007). a good example of the mutually
reinforcing role of structural social capital.

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