Political Capital: Middlebury


Political Capital

According to Green and Haines (2015) political capital is defined as “the ability of a group to influence the distribution of resources within a social unit” (p. 283). A strong example of political capital that comes to mind when referencing Middlebury, is the college. Middlebury College has played a key role in the development and growth of the community and its individuals since it’s founding in the 1800’s. Today the college is responsible for the involvement of several spheres of the town, with a level of influence that cannot be ignored. As a small liberal arts college located in Addison County there presence reaches much further that the geographic borders and draws in people from all over the world. As of June 30th this year Middlebury’s endowment stood at $1.10 billion (http://www.middlebury.edu).

An example of the college’s ability to influence resources within the town (the social unit in this case) is the recent land swap between the Town of Middlebury and the college. The town acquired a property from the college to develop new town offices and in return the town gave the college the land that the existing town offices stood on to be converted into a new college gateway and green space (Keck, 2013). The issue was hotly debated but the college had the political capital, influence, and funding to make the deal go through. This is an example of instrumental political capital in which the college was not using the attributes of the political system to shape participation (structural political capital) but instead using resources and actors to include policies (instrumental political capital)(Green and Haines, 2015, p.283). In this case the resources are the numerous donations the college offers to the town, access to resources, and possibly the actors who have both a connection with the college, or are alumni, with a political role or vote in the town.

Source References:

  • Green, Gary Paul and Haines, Anna (2015). Fourth Edition. Asset Building and Community Development. SAGE Publications, Inc. Thousand Oaks, California.
  • Keck, Nina. (2013, September 3). Middlebury Town-College Land Deal Debated. Retrieved from http://digital.vpr.net/post/middlebury-town-college-land-deal-debated#stream/0
  • Middlebury Announces Fiscal 2015 Endowment Results (2016, March 11) Retrieved from http://www.middlebury.edu/newsroom/archive/646969/node/502112

Photo Reference: 

  • Lifestyle: So much to do… (2016) Retrieved from: http://footefarmvt.com/lifestyle/