Reply to Julie’s and Helga’s Posts – – social capital / human element


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Reply to Julie’s and Helga’s Posts – – social capital / human element (link Itslearning)

Hi there,

Julie mentioned the apparent lack of consideration for culture in the decision-making process affecting employment and education policies. I can only agree with you.  Last night I saw the movie “The curious case of Benjamin Button.” One of the characters was a very successful ballet dancer, and while I was watching her, my mind wandered away to….human capital theory. I asked myself how that would actually fit into that dancer’s personal quest for self-realization, and I could not see any link. In her case, it was not a matter of money, of financial gain, of investment for the future, of return to education. It was instead a matter of personal engagement, expression of art and feeling, love for music and the body. If it is true that Human Capital Theory has been used by governments to refine their employment and economic policies, then I wonder about the role of people in such design. Are we just numbers, variables in the equation of a world-wide government-run attempt towards economic success, or do we still have a say in how we perceive ourselves and what life is all about?  Helga called such inclusion the “human element.”  I sense that the essence of a life based on human capital theories and similar “laws” would be a linear progression of goal-oriented decisions and tasks that, by its own virtue, would also cause a lot of grief to people who do not quite follow that path. It would create a climate of exclusion. That would pertain for example to immigrants that have a hard time transferring into an system of very different work credentials; “global people” with weak national affiliations; people that – for whatever reasons -did not “build’ their lives according to the model based on the progression school-education-job-training-career.

Julie also brought up the concept of “social capital.” That is also mentioned by Smith in Workplace learning and Flexible Delivery. (p. 70) Citing Putman, social capital is defined as

“the networks, norms, and social trust in a given social organization that enable cooperation and collaboration toward mutually beneficial outcomes,” and is linked to the concept of “collective intelligence.”

I believe that by allowing issues of “national interest” to take on a role that is already discounting people’s “human element” we are standing on dangerous ground.

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