After reading the Sanlam announcement on its latest broad-based BEE transaction and talking to the players involved, I found myself thinking a lot about social capital, especially in the context of black South Africans and their participation in the economy. The term "social capital" has a variety of meanings in a variety of contexts, but the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines it simply as "social relations that have productive habits" or "the links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and so work together". In his book Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American community, Robert Putnam argues that though Americans are wealthier than ever, their sense of community has withered. Putnam looked at the way they play 10-pin bowling, a sport with a big following in the US. He found that though the sport was growing in popularity, most Americans were no longer playing it in groups or in loca...

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