ISCA is a new association launched in 2021 but with roots that go back over 15 years. The association grew from a website on social capital started in 2005 by Tristan Claridge. From the beginning, Tristan wanted to help researchers navigate the complicated conceptual terrain of social capital theory.
The first iteration of the website included approximately 30 articles on definitional issues, conceptual approaches, and measurement approaches, and was mostly from Tristan’s Masters thesis. The website quickly become one of the most popular online resources on social capital and Tristan continued to add more resources. From the beginning, Tristan welcomed questions and comments and by 2021 he had helped several thousand people with social capital questions or problems.
The website was redesigned several times to meet changing requirements and design trends. The website steadily grew and by 2021 the website had over 200 articles and was visited by over 30,000 people per month. For many years the website also promoted Tristan’s consulting work on social capital. Over the years social media and an email list were added. In 2017 a Facebook group was started to facilitate discussion and collaboration.
In April 2020, Tristan decided to hold some free Q&A sessions on social capital. At the time the COVID-19 pandemic was interrupting in-person interaction and many people were isolated from their normal work and study environment. These sessions proved incredibly popular with several hundred people registering across the three sessions and people from over 100 countries taking part. After this, and with the encouragement and support of Jacob Spanke, online discussions and webinar sessions became regular events. From August 2020 these sessions were held every two weeks.
In May 2021, the group hosted a webinar by Professor Robert Putnam titled “A reflection on 30 years of social capital research”. This event was attended by approximately 2,000 people and generated a lot of interest in the group, which also significantly increased the group size.
Throughout 2021 the group became more active with numerous people becoming involved in organising events, mentoring, and other tasks. By September of 2021, the group needed more structure and decided to incorporate to form the International Social Capital Association to continue the mission Tristan had started 15 years earlier.
The first official board meeting was held in October 2021 and the association was incorporated in December 2021.