The paper defines generalized social capital as the shared feeling of belonging that is expressed as generalized trust toward the generalized other, and produces a specific relational good, namely social cohesion, which in turn reduces the risks of fragmentation within society at large. Moreover it allows both market and states to improve their own performances. According to mainstream approaches, generalized social capital is the good effect of a positive functioning of welfare systems. On the contrary, the Author’s thesis - following the results of the field surveys considered in this paper maintains that the shared values and the attitude of generalized trust are the emergent effect of a very complex relational process involving the actor, his primary groups (family and life-worlds), and the associative formations and networks. Such process can be favoured by a subsidiary intervention on the part of State and market. Relying upon the analysis of the empirical data, the Author claim that social cohesion can be produced along two distinct paths: one goes through the informal relationships and the involvement in Third sector associations; the other relies on the welfare system. These two ways don't overlap, because different people are concerned in the two cases. In the end, the paper presents some proposals to revise the approaches of social policy that are currently figuring as prominent in Europe.