In this interview Mark Pennington critiques the belief held by many social democrats that the failure of past government interventions in social and economic life can be explained by the absence of social capital, and that government must intervene to create that social capital.

In a Hobart Paper on this topic Mark Pennington and John Meadowcroft argue that government attempts to undertake 'cultural planning' to create social capital are subject to exactly the same problems that led economic and industrial planning to fail. In order for democratic systems to work, they must be limited to co-ordinating certain core political functions. Markets will generate attributes such as trust and non-discrimination, which are necessary to oil the wheels of both commercial and political society.

This monograph can be downloaded from the IEA website iea.org.uk and is essential reading for all economists, sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists whose work brings them into contact with the social capital literature.

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