Season 1, Episode 1 of Wire: Analysis Based on Social Capital Theory

Social capital has been practiced ever since the existence of human interactions and small communities. The social capital theory is based on the idea that relationships are established purposefully and are used to generate long term or short-term benefits that can be psychological, economic, social, or emotional. In this case, the concept of social capital is used to analyze how the behavior of different characters and groups in “Wire” episode one.

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Social capital is represented in network associations that occur among individuals or groups that are characterized by collective action and mutual benefit (Milana and Maldaon 134). In episode 1, it is shown that the institutions in character are interconnected and they run in an organized manner even though the methodologies are ineffective. However, the character McNulty tries to suggest that things should be run differently, but that is not kindly taken by his work partners (Audrey 00:31). They all believe in caring and taking responsibility only during their rotations and not minding other people’s rotation in the cop department. They, therefore, have shared norms, which are the unwritten value that a network of individuals and groups share for mutual benefit.

The other assumption regarding social capital is that long term services and acts of kindness will at one point be returned. In the episode, Bill Rawls acts as the guardian of the system. He believes that his job is to ensure that the rates of murder are kept down and the clearance rate up (Audrey 00:11). He knows his way of doing things will be reciprocated by receiving funding which is crucial in ensuring that cops are maintained in the streets. Thus, the episode shows how social capital is about social norms and networks that created and maintained for mutual benefit.


Works Cited

Audrey, Ariana. “YouTube.” YouTube, 21 Apr. 2008, Accessed 14 Dec. 2019.

Milana, Elias, and Issa Maldaon. “Social capital: A comprehensive overview at organizational context.” Periodica Polytechnica Social and Management Sciences 23.2 (2015): 133-141.

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