The concept of “social capital” has become a popular buzzword. Like other authors, the contributors to this volume draw on Robert Putnam's well-known definition of social capital as “generalized trust, norms of reciprocity and networks” among individuals (2). Social capital is credited with providing a wide range of social benefits, including tolerance of diversity, economic growth, lower crime rates, better health and more responsive government. The grandiose claims made on behalf of social capital and the large amounts of money being poured into developing social capital in diverse social settings, as well as the fuzziness of the original concept, mean that careful analysis of the idea of social capital is badly needed.