How Social Capital Affects Resource Sharing


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This is a fun, in-class activity that teaches students the ways social capital affects resource distribution. It is best done after students have been exposed, either through reading or lectures, to the idea of social capital. It does not teach them about social capital so much as it teaches them some of the potential ramifications of social capital, specifically that it can mitigate resource disparity. The “game” portion takes about 45 minutes and discussion can be fairly lengthy at 15-25 minutes. If you have a shorter class, it would be feasible to have the discussion in the following class period.


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Maureen K. Day, Santa Rosa Junior College 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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I have run this in classes with roughly thirty students, however, this activity can be scaled to any size class as it is run in groups of four and requires minimal preparation. Students create groups of four and take on roles of Persons A, B, C and D....

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will learn the importance of social capital in facilitating resource distribution.
Assessment 1:
Besides experiencing it in this admittedly artificial setting, this resource includes discussion questions to make explicit everything that is implicit in the activity itself as well as an assessment of the students' answers to evaluate learning.
Goal 2:
Students will apply these concepts of inequality and social capital to real life.
Assessment 2:
Discussion questions unpack these ideas and apply them to society. Again, this includes an informal rubric to assess student learning.
Goal 3:
Students will learn how to understand their own needs in the context of the group's needs.
Assessment 3:
Certain group situations encourage the students to act in self-interested or other-regarding ways. This will be made evident when the groups high in social capital have higher survival rates than the groups low in social capital.

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