Friday, March 16, 2007

Oh My God, Social Capital Exists!

Last week before lecture, I had lunch with Aco at our own Faculty of Economics refectory at Depok campus. As years gone by, only few familiar faces I know at otherwise very crowded lunchtime in that place. One of them is my good friend Topik. He is the waiter, well, not really a waiter, but the man who gives us here luxury to have our ordered (cheap) student's meal delivered to our table. Eight years ago he was with the ice tea outlet, but now with less frequent traffic of chicken noodle delivery.

I told him that I did not feel like having chicken noodle at that time, and asked what is the best food in the refectory. Aco might think that I was crazy asking such stupid question on the quality of competitor's product, but Taufiq gave me his suggestion anyway . Mutton tongseng (ask google, if you don't know this), he said. I trusted him and we both had that meal. It was good.

On our way to the class rooms, Aco, himself the great skeptic of social capital, said that this should be blogged in the cafe. The title: "Oh my God, social capital exists!". It means if you invest in social capital (or trust), by befriended with Topik, it will help you to get the information, make the right decision, and raise your utility (good tongseng)

I think AP, the fan of Robert Putnam, would love to say to Aco, "I told you so"


  1. the ever reliable Topik (without Papan, of which comes from my batch). if you guys 'invested' more, he would be able to do some delivery service right to the 'green-carpet' itself, so your time of catching up with the 'karambol' table would be undisturbed. or can i still beat your ass with pure luck, guys?

    i miss the days when you can simply shout 'es teh manis ama bubur kacang ijo keju, Pik - kagak pakek lama ye!'.

  2. Yes, it exists and has value as capital asset. But, sorry it has no value to be contributed to financial capital, even to be deducted from core capital. Todays' sophisticated accounting considers it as an asset, however, the end goal is to exclude it from core capital.

    It may have value if you share your Topik's exclusivity with Aco and ask him to pay for your tongseng. You can save your money and Aco's utility raises. :)

  3. Hahaha, Anymatters, that's a good proposal.

    Still, social capital to me is an oxymoron.

    I admit I was stunned when Topik gave his honest answer to Rizal, without the latter paying anything to the former. But then I realized I was thinking of the wrong missing market.

    The true missing market was actually the one between Topik and his competitors. Were this market there and functioning, it were the competitors (or in Rizal's case, the tongseng vendor) who should have paid Topik for sending us to him.

    But don't get me wrong. Just because a market is missing, social capital might exist. No, it's just that there is a temporary inefficiency. Topik and the other guys would find a way to internalize the indirect economic interaction. Just have many Rizals ask reference to Topik everytime he goes to the canteen. Then that market will show up. Trust me (Oh my God, I'm using the T-word!)

  4. I have a different experiece. Everytime I went for lunch at the cafetaria, I usually ask the waiter what's good, whether it's Topik or the others that work for another vendors. Strangely, they always recommend tongseng. So, maybe there's a concensus that tongseng is the best food in the cafetaria? Or maybe the tongseng vendor invest extra to increase his market share?

    Anyhow, eight years ago? that say a lot man:D

  5. detta, I didn't know Topik can travel as far as the legendary green carpet down in the basement.

    anymatters, to his credit, Aco did pay my tongseng, plus the premium, guava juice.

    aco, well, yes, social capital is a futile idea. But don't you think missing market can indeed create a personalized, interlocked, market relationship --the way we see in agrarian economy?

    Pasha, of all words, why you spot the most sensitive part, mate?

    Ap, told what? Topik doesn't play bowling, anyway :-)

  6. is this the same Topik that used to work in the Depok cafe?? didn't know he moved to Salemba...