Sociology Social Capital
Benjamin Cornwell, Alicia Eads
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0076


The concept of “social capital” is unique in the social sciences in that there is both general interest in its various forms and consequences for social actors and, at the same time, serious disagreement as to its theoretical and empirical utility. This is partly due to the incredible popularity the concept has gained throughout the social sciences since the late 1980s. It has inspired a vast literature that is nearly impossible to survey in its entirety. For example, a simple Google Scholar search for “social capital” yields over one million results. Our goal here is not to promote a particular definition of social capital or to advocate a particular research agenda, but to suggest starting points for researchers who are interested in (or otherwise compelled to study) social capital. Social capital, for most scholars, includes a social relationship element (e.g., concrete social network ties) and a resource or benefit component (e.g., trust) at either the individual actor or collective level. The entries in this article address the theoretical history of the general concept of social capital, foundational theoretical and empirical work, different approaches to conceptualizing and measuring social capital, theoretical critiques, and recent applications of the concept in sociology, political science, economics, organizational research, health research, and public policy, among others. We present particularly influential pieces that have motivated research on social capital, those that attempt to review the corpus of work on this topic, and, to a lesser extent, recent work that offers innovative or promising approaches to social capital. We begin with foundational statements about social capital. We then cover reviews and critiques and then address substantive research focusing on important individual-level topics as well as larger social constructs like organizations and neighborhoods.

Foundational Works

Social capital has been conceptualized in numerous ways—as both a social-structural and a psychological construct, as both a micro- and a macro-level phenomenon, and as both a metaphor and a set of concrete resources. This diversity may be traced back to the fact that the highly prominent scholars who first developed this concept introduced it using what are now seen as ambiguous terms and underscored its inherently multidimensional nature. This section presents the foundational and the most highly cited works that introduced the concept in various social science disciplines, including Bourdieu 1986, Coleman 1988, and Putnam 1993, as well as works that are noted for their profound influence on subsequent thinking about social capital (Burt 2000, Fukuyama 1995, Lin 2001).

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. The forms of capital. In Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Edited by J. G Richardson, 241–248. New York: Greenwood.

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    This is the first influential statement on the concept of “social capital.” Bourdieu contrasts social capital with other types of capital (e.g., cultural capital) and explores their relationships to each other. He defines social capital in terms of the “durable network” of relationships actors maintain and the resources that are available to them as a result of maintaining those relationships.

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    • Burt, Ronald S. 2000. The network structure of social capital. Research in Organizational Behavior 22:345–423.

      DOI: 10.1016/S0191-3085(00)22009-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Burt develops a network-structural definition of social capital. In contrast to scholars who emphasize strong ties and triadic closure, Burt argues that gaps, or “structural holes,” in networks present opportunities for actors to bridge or broker between unconnected groups. The value added to a network by brokers is social capital, although network closure is also important. Burt discusses empirical evidence and provides a detailed discussion of network mechanisms.

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      • Coleman, James S. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94:S95–S120.

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        Coleman highlights the functionality of social capital as a resource for social actors. He defines it as a structural property of relationships and describes how strong ties and triadic closure shape social norms, expectations, trust, and informal social control. Coleman illustrates the importance of social capital by linking it to the development of human capital and illustrates its relevance in markets and other contexts.

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        • Fukuyama, F. 1995. Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press.

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          This influential book made the bold claim that social capital—conceptualized primarily in terms of trust—is crucial for national economic prosperity. Fukuyama argues that the type of social capital that predominates in a given society affects its economic institutions. Societies in which there is generalized trust among strangers are better able to support the development of large corporations and markets.

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          • Lin, Nan. 2001. Social capital: A theory of social structure and action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511815447Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This book defines social capital in terms of the instrumental resources that are available to social actors through the social network ties they maintain. Lin sees social capital as an investment made by rational actors. The book discusses the importance of social capital for individual outcomes and thereby reveals the pivotal role social capital plays in social mobility and stratification processes.

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            • Putnam, Robert D. 1993. Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Making Democracy Work is perhaps the foundational empirical analysis of social capital in the social sciences. Putnam demonstrates that levels of associational activity and trust in the community—as opposed to policies or budgets—were the key factors that determined the effectiveness of regional governments in Italy in the late 20th century. This book suggests that social capital is crucial for building strong societal institutions

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              General Overviews and Collections

              Partly because it caught on in different disciplines and partly because it lends itself to disparate operationalizations, the concept of social capital has generated a dizzying number of studies and theoretical accounts. Numerous scholars have addressed this diversity of approaches either by gathering different perspectives into one source or by directly attempting to summarize or synthesize the diverse literature on social capital. Efforts to expose the scope of this literature are evident in numerous collected volumes (Castiglione, et al. 2008; Dasgupta and Serageldin 2000; Lin, et al. 2001; Ostrom and Ahn 2003; Svendsen and Svendsen 2009). Others make explicit efforts to address, contrast, and reconcile different approaches to the concept. This section includes a few insightful and/or comprehensive overviews (Farr 2004, Halpern 2004, Portes 1998). These entries are useful primers for scholars who are interested in social capital and want to learn more about it but do not know where to begin.

              • Castiglione, Dario, Jan W. van Deth, and Guglielmo Wolleb, eds. 2008. The handbook of social capital. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                This edited volume includes primarily recent work by international scholars on social capital in the areas of economic development, democratic politics, and the community. Contributions include conceptual overviews of social capital in these areas as well as original theoretical and empirical studies.

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                • Dasgupta, Partha, and Ismail Serageldin, eds. 2000. Social capital: A multifacted perspective. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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                  This book presents a collection of studies that address the theories and empirical research that compose the literature on social capital in sociology, political science, and economics. Some foundational works are reprinted, combined with a few new studies and critiques.

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                  • Farr, James. 2004. Social capital: A conceptual history. Political Theory 32.1: 6–33.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0090591703254978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Farr provides a valuable theoretical discussion of the history of the concept of social capital as it was invoked in early and classical works—by such scholars as Lyda Judson Hanifan, John Dewey, and even Karl Marx—that are only rarely recognized as foundational to the social capital literature.

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                    • Halpern, David. 2004. Social capital. Oxford: Polity.

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                      This strangely overlooked book may be the best elementary primer on social capital. It provides a general overview of the concept from different social science perspectives; traces their conceptual histories; discusses measurement issues; provides overviews of the application of the concept in research on economic performance, health and well-being, crime, education, and government; and discusses over-time trends in social capital and their policy implications.

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                      • Lin, Nan, Karen S. Cook, and Ronald S. Burt, eds. 2001. Social capital: Theory and research. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.

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                        This edited volume brings together research from different fields on social capital that adopts a social networks perspective. In addition, it provides an in-depth argument by the editors regarding why social capital should be seen as a function of social networks.

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                        • Ostrom, Elinor, and T. K Ahn. 2003. Foundations of social capital. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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                          This edited volume collects a number of theoretical and empirical works that are foundational to different uses of the concept of social capital. It includes early works by Alexis de Tocqueville, Lyda Judson Hanifan, Theodore W. Schultz, and Jane Jacobs, as well as the more recent and highly cited foundational works that they directly influenced.

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                          • Portes, Alejandro. 1998. Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology 24:1–24.

                            DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            This is the most comprehensive overview of scholarship on social capital up to the late 1990s. This paper is useful for the clarity of its explanation and treatment of work that is now considered foundational and sometimes taken for granted. It focuses on sociological applications of the concept, highlights its often-neglected negative implications, and gives a prescient warning about overdevelopment of the concept.

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                            • Svendsen, Gert Tinggaard, and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, eds. 2009. Handbook of social Capital: The troika of sociology, political science and economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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                              This volume of collected works is designed for an interdisciplinary and international audience. The contributions are remarkably diverse, addressing both foundational work on social capital and other topics such as the welfare state, corruption in institutions, and the role of humor in achieving cooperation.

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                              Few concepts in such heavy use in the social sciences today have been the subject of so much controversy and criticism. Many scholars find the term too vague, and others dismiss it as a metaphor. The diversity of approaches to social capital has led to widespread inconsistency and confusion with respect to conceptualization, measurement, and thus empirical findings. This section presents some of the more vocal critiques of the concept itself and/or concerns over how the literature associated with it has developed (Baron, et al. 2001; Fine 2000; Foley and Edwards 1999; Sobel 2002). Also presented are criticisms about the logical basis of key hypotheses and findings regarding trends in or effects of social capital in specific fields (Durlauf 2002; Mouw 2006; Portes 2000).

                              • Baron, Stephen, John Field, and Tom Schuller, eds. 2001. Social capital: Critical perspectives. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                In this volume, a multidisciplinary and international group of scholars critically examines the use of the social capital concept in academia and in policy circles. Chapters review studies in education, health, policy, and development. The authors address shortcomings in this work, gaps between theory and research, and mixed evidence. They counterbalance this with discussions about the uses and promise of the concept.

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                                • Durlauf, Steven N. 2002. On the empirics of social capital. Economic Journal 112:459–479.

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                                  Durlauf outlines conceptual and empirical problems in social capital research on socioeconomic outcomes. Through in-depth analysis of three “exemplar” empirical studies of social capital, he notes the lack of consensus concerning the definition of social capital and highlights key problems with modeling the effects of social capital.

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                                  • Fine, Ben. 2000. Social capital versus social theory: Political economy and social science at the turn of the millennium. London: Routledge.

                                    DOI: 10.4324/9780203470787Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Fine gives is a highly critical account, from an economics point of view, of research on social capital and policymakers’ attention to it. Fine essentially argues that social capital is too vague a concept to submit to proper empirical analysis, resulting in overly simplistic models, and thus should not serve as a basis for policy decisions.

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                                    • Foley, Michael W., and Bob Edwards. 1999. Is it time to disinvest in social capital? Journal of Public Policy 19.2: 141–173.

                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0143814X99000215Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Foley and Edwards review forty-five studies of social capital, and track disciplinary differences in how the term is conceptualized and applied. They criticize uses that focus on norms, values, and attitudes, and especially the concept of “generalized trust.” On the other hand, they highlight the virtues of network and structural approaches to social capital that are widely used in sociology.

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                                      • Mouw, Ted. 2006. Estimating the causal effect of social capital: A review of recent research. Annual Review of Sociology 32.1: 79–102.

                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.32.061604.123150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        This is the most comprehensive recent examination of social capital research. This paper focuses on the problem of identifying causal effects of social capital in research on important outcomes. Particular attention is paid to the biasing effects of social homophily processes, as well as recent efforts to estimate the influence of social capital in light of these challenges.

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                                        • Portes, Alejandro. 2000. The two meanings of social capital. Sociological Forum 15:1–12.

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                                          This article addresses the ambiguity in the meaning of the term social capital, the logical bases of hypotheses concerning the effects of social capital, and controversies concerning empirical findings in that vein. The article addresses these issues in both research on social capital as an individual-level phenomenon and work that treats it as a collective phenomenon. Portes suggests that many of the alleged effects of social capital may be spurious.

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                                          • Sobel, Joel. 2002. Can we trust social capital? Journal of Economic Literature 40.1: 139–154.

                                            DOI: 10.1257/0022051027001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Motivated by the dizzying rate of growth in the use of the concept of social capital in research, Sobel essentially pleads with social scientists to take a step back and consider what the concept means, how it is being used, what is known about its effects, and other unaddressed issues. The paper is written largely from the perspective of economic theory.

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                                            Methods and Measurement

                                            Social capital is an inherently multidimensional concept, and much of the methodological work that has been done on the measurement of social capital has focused on how to capture these different dimensions. This work is primarily focused on applied research in the areas of health and policy. This section describes several papers that introduce survey instruments that are designed to capture important dimensions of social capital and that discuss the operationalization of the concept of social capital and validate the resulting measures (Grootaert, et al. 2004; Narayan and Cassidy 2001; Onyx and Bullen 2000; Van Der Gaag and Snijders 2005). This section also includes papers that give thought to some of the problems associated with measuring social capital (Harpham, et al. 2002; Lochner, et al. 1999; Stone 2001). Also included is a paper that presents a qualitative approach to social capital (Svendsen 2006), which provides a rare but very insightful counterpoint to the heavily quantitative thrust of most research on this topic.

                                            • Grootaert, C., D. Narayan, V. N. Jones, and M. Woolcock. 2004. Measuring social capital: An integrated questionnaire. World Bank Working Paper Number 18. Washington, DC: World Bank.

                                              DOI: 10.1596/0-8213-5661-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This report describes a questionnaire—the Integrated Questionnaire for the Measurement of Social Capital (SC-IQ)—that is designed to capture six components of social capital: groups and networks, trust and solidarity, collective action and cooperation, information and communication, social cohesion and inclusion, and empowerment and political action. The authors discuss their experiences using this questionnaire in developing countries.

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                                              • Harpham, Trudy, Emma Grant, and Elizabeth Thomas. 2002. Measuring social capital within health surveys: Key issues. Health Policy and Planning 17.1: 106–111.

                                                DOI: 10.1093/heapol/17.1.106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                This article summarizes research on social capital and health, focusing on mechanisms through which social capital affects health, and discusses how relevant aspects of social capital are measured in foundational studies in this field. Issues related to obtaining measures and building appropriate models—including confounders, individual versus ecological factors, multiple dimensions, and validity and reliability—are discussed in detail.

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                                                • Lochner, Kimberly, Ichiro Kawachi, and Bruce P. Kennedy. 1999. Social capital: A guide to its measurement. Health & Place 5.4: 259–270.

                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S1353-8292(99)00016-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This paper is an early attempt to outline some likely empirical challenges in measuring social capital. It provides an overview of social capital and related concepts, focusing on collective efficacy, sense of community, neighborhood cohesion, and “community competence.” The authors provide an overview of existing measures for each construct, discuss some of their virtues and limitations, and underscore the need to distinguish between individual- and community-level elements of social capital.

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                                                  • Narayan, Deepa, and Michael F. Cassidy. 2001. A dimensional approach to measuring social capital: Development and validation of a social capital inventory. Current Sociology 49.2: 59–102.

                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0011392101049002006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This paper introduces a self-report instrument for assessing multiple dimensions of social capital at the household and aggregate levels. The authors discuss the empirical validation of the instrument using data collected in Ghana and Uganda and present exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses that reveal several dimensions of social capital that are captured by the instrument.

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                                                    • Onyx, Jenny, and Paul Bullen. 2000. Measuring social capital in five communities. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 36.1: 23–42.

                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0021886300361002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Onyx and Bullen describe one of the first questionnaires designed to operationalize social capital as a multidimensional concept, based primarily on Coleman and Putnam. They administered the questionnaire containing sixty-eight potential items to five Australian communities. Factor analysis identified eight factors, including community participation, agency, and trust. The authors document differences in these factors across the five communities.

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                                                      • Stone, Wendy. 2001. Measuring social capital: Towards a theoretically informed measurement framework for researching social capital in family and community life. Research Paper No. 24. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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                                                        This report addresses the “empirical mayhem” caused by different conceptualizations of social capital, as well as analysts’ confusion of aspects of social capital with its outcomes. Stone provides a careful analysis of theoretically relevant dimensions of social capital and discusses the implications of theory for empirical operationalization. The report is useful both as an overview and as a guide for analysts who wish to avoid common problems with measures of social capital.

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                                                        • Svendsen, Gunnar L. H. 2006. Studying social capital in situ: A qualitative approach. Theory and Society 35.1: 39–70.

                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s11186-006-6780-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This study advocates and describes a qualitative approach to studying social capital. It provides an unusually rich and insightful account of how social capital emerges and is experienced in everyday social contexts. In this case, the authors describe processes of bonding and bridging social capital in a study of encounters between locals and newcomers in a rural Danish municipality.

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                                                          • Van Der Gaag, Martin, and Tom A. B. Snijders. 2005. The resource generator: Social capital quantification with concrete items. Social Networks 27.1: 1–29.

                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.socnet.2004.10.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            This paper introduces the “resource generator,” which is a survey instrument that is designed to access multidimensional information about the resources available to a given individual’s network members. Four dimensions of social capital are identified: network members’ SES-related resources, political and financial capital, personal skills, and support. Implementation is illustrated using a representative sample of the Dutch population.

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                                                            Social Inequality

                                                            Social capital researchers have made many inroads into the inequality and social stratification research. Bourdieu’s concept of social capital (see Foundational Works) receives perhaps more attention within this subfield than others, partly because Bourdieu focused specifically on the use of various forms of capital for the reproduction of inequality. Many of the papers in this section consider inequality in social capital itself and how that leads to inequality in outcomes such as socioeconomic status (Lin 2000) and income (Loury 1977; Boxman, et al. 1991). Other research focuses more specifically on the role of social capital in the reproduction of social stratification (York Cornwell and Cornwell 2008; Cleaver 2005). One recent study analyzes the connection between social class and the unequal distribution of social capital (Pichler and Wallace 2009), and another examines the role played by organizations in the processes involved in building personal networks in the first place (Small 2009).

                                                            • Boxman, Ed A. W., Paul M. De Graaf, and Hendrik D. Flap. 1991. The impact of social and human capital on the income attainment of Dutch managers. Social Networks 13.1: 51–73.

                                                              DOI: 10.1016/0378-8733(91)90013-JSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              This paper is an early empirical analysis of the impact of social capital on income. The authors test several models to assess the independent and interacting effects of human and social capital. They find that social capital not only helps Dutch managers find jobs but also that human capital has decreasing returns for those with high social capital.

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                                                              • Cleaver, Frances. 2005. The inequality of social capital and the reproduction of chronic poverty. World Development 33.6: 893–906.

                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2004.09.015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                This is an ethnographic study of poor families in Tanzania. Cleaver argues that social capital is not a cure-all for those in chronic poverty, and may not be useful for poor individuals who face other obstacles. For example, the families observed for this study are excluded from local institutions and face constraints due to poverty and poor health, thus preventing them from investing in social capital.

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                                                                • Lin, Nan. 2000. Inequality in social capital. Contemporary Sociology 29.6: 785–795.

                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2654086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Lin considers how inequality in social capital contributes to inequality in socioeconomic status. He discusses the distinction between deficiencies in social capital and deficiencies in returns on social capital, then reviews the empirical evidence assessing these deficiencies for women and minorities. Lin concludes that both women and minorities are embedded in networks that are deficient in social capital. He calls for more research regarding differential returns on social capital.

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                                                                  • Loury, Glenn. 1977. A dynamic theory of racial income differences. In Women, minorities, and employment discrimination. Edited by Phyllis Wallace and Annette LaMond, 153–188. Lexington, MA: Heath.

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                                                                    This early piece is often considered foundational in the social capital literature. Loury argues that individuals do not develop their human capital characteristics independently of their social situations. Individuals’ chances for success are not based solely on their innate capabilities, as these are affected by the resources invested in the individual, which have a social origin.

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                                                                    • Pichler, Florian, and Claire Wallace. 2009. Social capital and social class in Europe: The role of social networks in social stratification. European Sociological Review 25.3: 319–332.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcn050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      The authors examine the impact of social class on social capital. Using cross-national European data, the authors find that members of higher social classes possess more social capital than others, and that these findings hold across countries. They also find that the differences in social capital are greater in countries that have greater class inequality in general.

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                                                                      • Small, Mario. 2009. Unanticipated gains: Origins of network inequality in everyday life. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384352.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Small takes a step back from the social capital literature and examines the processes by which people form network ties in the first place. He argues that in order to understand inequality in social capital, we need to understand how network inequality arises. Small points to the role played by the organizations in which individuals are routinely involved, which shape opportunities for tie formation. This work thus challenges rationalistic approaches to social capital.

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                                                                        • York Cornwell, Erin, and Benjamin Cornwell. 2008. Access to expertise as a form of social capital: An examination of race- and class-based disparities in network ties to experts. Sociological Perspectives 51.4: 853–876.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/sop.2008.51.4.853Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          This paper conceptualizes access to network members who possess expertise as a form of social capital and considers its role in social stratification. Analysis of General Social Survey (GSS) data shows not only that white and upper-class individuals have more ties to experts than others, but also that this disparity has increased since the late 20th century.

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                                                                          Education and Youth

                                                                          Inspired primarily by Coleman’s foundational work on social capital, many scholars are concerned about the effects of social capital on young people. Most of this work focuses on how social resources and networks shape youths’ educational attainment. This section presents influential works in this vein, including a meta-analysis of empirical research (Dika and Singh 2002), studies that document positive effects of social capital on educational attainment and other youth outcomes (Furstenberg and Hughes 1995; Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch 1995; Teachman, et al. 1997), one study that shows that social capital actually has a negative influence on academic achievement (Morgan and Sørensen 1999), a critique of the use of social capital in research and policy concerning youths (Morrow 1999), and a study that focuses on determinants of child-related neighborhood collective efficacy (Sampson, et al. 1999).

                                                                          • Dika, Sandra L., and Kusum Singh. 2002. Applications of social capital in educational literature: A critical synthesis. Review of Educational Research 72.1: 31–60.

                                                                            DOI: 10.3102/00346543072001031Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This article reviews foundational research on social capital and its implications for education and presents a meta-analysis of thirty-five publications that examine the link between social capital and education attainment. The authors discuss issues concerning methodology and measurement in this field. They conclude that social capital is positively associated with various aspects of educational attainment and educated-related outcomes.

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                                                                            • Furstenberg, Frank F., and Mary Elizabeth Hughes. 1995. Social capital and successful development among at-risk youth. Journal of Marriage and Family 57.3: 580–592.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/353914Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Furstenberg and Hughes conducted one of the first rigorous empirical examinations of Coleman’s hypothesis that social capital shapes educational attainment among youth who are at risk of lifelong disadvantage. This longitudinal study finds that, among children with teenage mothers, social capital plays a role in shaping several young-adult outcomes.

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                                                                              • Morgan, Stephen L., and Aage B. Sørensen. 1999. Parental networks, social closure, and mathematics learning: A test of Coleman’s social capital explanation of school effects. American Sociological Review 64.5: 661–681.

                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/2657368Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                This study turns Coleman’s theory regarding the positive relationship between dense networks and students’ academic achievement on its head by showing that “horizon-expanding” schools, in which there is less capacity for parents’ informal social control, are more effective at fostering learning. The authors provide empirical support for this argument with respect to mathematics achievement among high schoolers.

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                                                                                • Morrow, Virginia. 1999. Conceptualising social capital in relation to the well-being of children and young people: A critical review. Sociological Review 47.4: 744–766.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.00194Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Morrow critiques the use of the concept of social capital in empirical research on children and adolescents and in policy circles. She argues that the concept is ambiguous and imprecise, and thus that its policy implications are too vague to put into practice.

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                                                                                  • Sampson, Robert J., Jeffrey D. Morenoff, and Felton Earls. 1999. Beyond social capital: Spatial dynamics of collective efficacy for children. American Sociological Review 64.5: 633–660.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2657367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    This article examines determinants of intergenerational relationships, reciprocal local exchange and involvement (e.g., socializing with neighbors), and shared expectations for child-related informal social control within neighborhoods. Several features of neighborhoods, including concentrated affluence, residential mobility, and proximity to neighborhoods with collective efficacy, are associated in different ways with these child-related outcomes.

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                                                                                    • Stanton-Salazar, Ricardo D., and Sanford M. Dornbusch. 1995. Social capital and the reproduction of inequality: Information networks among Mexican-origin high school students. Sociology of Education 68.2: 116–135.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2112778Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This article considers the influence of social capital, defined in terms of network ties to educational institutional agents (e.g., teachers), on the grades and educational and occupational expectations of Mexican-origin high school students. Net of parental socio-economic status, social capital significantly shapes these outcomes. The authors note that language likely affects these students’ abilities to cultivate this form of social capital.

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                                                                                      • Teachman, Jay D., Kathleen Paasch, and Karen Carver. 1997. Social capital and the generation of human capital. Social Forces 75.4: 1343–1359.

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                                                                                        This paper uses longitudinal data to examine youths’ risk of dropping out of school. In addition to finding that social capital is directly negatively associated with youths’ risk of dropping out, the analysis shows that social capital interacts with parents’ financial and human capital to condition this risk. Social capital amplifies the negative influence of parents’ human and (especially) financial capital on youths’ dropout risk.

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                                                                                        Employment and Occupations

                                                                                        Many scholars are interested in the role of social capital in employment and other occupational outcomes. This section presents papers that address different types of occupational outcomes. One paper (Lee and Brinton 1996) focuses on the role of universities’ social capital in college graduates’ likelihood of getting hired by a top employer, while another (Burt 1997) examines the role of employees’ social capital within firms in promotions and bonuses. Lin 1999 reviews evidence of the link between social capital and various employment and occupational outcomes as well as other forms of status attainment. Another paper conceptualizes social capital in terms of the connections employees have to potential new hires through referral networks (Fernandez, et al. 2000). Mouw 2003 represents an emerging methodological critique of studies that assume causal effects.

                                                                                        • Burt, Ronald S. 1997. The contingent value of social capital. Administrative Science Quarterly 42.2: 339–365.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2393923Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          This paper argues that the value of social capital at work, which derives from maintaining ties to people who are otherwise unconnected to each other depends on the number of peers one has at work who do the same job. An analysis of managers shows that the benefits of social capital for promotions and bonuses are greater for those who have few peers.

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                                                                                          • Fernandez, Roberto M., Emilio J. Castilla, and Paul Moore. 2000. Social capital at work: Networks and employment at a phone center. American Journal of Sociology 105.5: 1288–1356.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/210432Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            This article views social capital in terms of the social ties that employees have to potential new hires. The authors discuss several mechanisms through which employees’ job referral connections can yield significant economic returns for employers as well as employees.

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                                                                                            • Lee, Sunhwa, and Mary C. Brinton. 1996. Elite education and social capital: The case of South Korea. Sociology of Education 69.3: 177–192.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2112728Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              At the intersection of the issues of education and employment, this study examines the role of elite education in South Korean men’s labor market outcomes. It shows that, net of their individual characteristics and personal network ties, students at more prestigious educational institutions are more likely to be hired by top employers, which is a benefit of their schools’ extensive network with employers.

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                                                                                              • Lin, Nan. 1999. Social networks and status attainment. Annual Review of Sociology 25:467–487.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.25.1.467Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Lin reviews evidence concerning the connection between individuals’ social capital, as evidenced by resources embedded in their social network ties, and a variety of individual outcomes, including employment, occupational attainment, and other related outcomes. This paper also views social capital itself in terms of network members’ occupational statuses.

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                                                                                                • Mouw, Ted. 2003. Social capital and finding a job: Do contacts matter? American Sociological Review 68.6: 868–898.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/1519749Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Mouw argues that much of the presumed effect of social capital on labor market outcomes reflects not a causal effect of network members’ resources on individuals’ fortunes, but the fact that people tend to be affiliated with others who have similar statuses as themselves. This paper is pivotal in drawing attention to the possibility that presumed social capital “effects” are due to network selection or endogeneity.

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                                                                                                  One of the liveliest areas of research relating to social capital has to do with its relationship to health. This section includes influential empirical studies of the link between social capital and specific aspects of health (Kawachi, et al. 1999; Poortinga 2006). Several scholars have attempted to provide overviews of work on different dimensions of the link between social capital and health (De Silva, et al. 2005; Kawachi, et al. 2008). Interestingly, much of the research in this area focuses on social capital as a mediator between disadvantage and health outcomes, as illustrated in an analysis of the connection between aggregate levels of social capital and mortality rates at the state levels (Kawachi, et al. 1997), although some scholars question the usefulness of such a collective social concept for understanding individual health outcomes (Pearce and Smith 2003). Also included here is an article that addresses the link between social capital theory and public policy (Szreter and Woolcock 2004).

                                                                                                  • De Silva, Mary J., Kwame McKenzie, Trudy Harpham, and Sharon R. A. Huttly. 2005. Social capital and mental illness: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59.8: 619–627.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1136/jech.2004.029678Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This paper reviews findings from twenty-one empirical studies on the link between social capital and mental health at both the individual and ecological levels. The authors note that findings depend on the level being investigated. They find a generally negative association between social capital and mental illness at the individual level, but too much diversity in the ecological studies precludes a reliable conclusion.

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                                                                                                    • Kawachi, Ichiro, Bruce P. Kennedy, and Roberta Glass. 1999. Social capital and self-rated health: A contextual analysis. American Journal of Public Health 89.8: 1187–1193.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.89.8.1187Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      This article documents the effects of aggregate (state-level) social capital on individual self-rated health. It finds that aggregate levels of social capital are positively associated with self-rated health net of other important individual-level predictors.

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                                                                                                      • Kawachi, I, B. P. Kennedy, K. Lochner, and D. Prothrow-Stith. 1997. Social capital, income inequality, and mortality. American Journal of Public Health 87.9: 1491–1498.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.87.9.1491Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        This influential paper is one of the first studies to examine the link between social capital and health at the aggregate (in this case, state) level. The authors use the General Social Survey (GSS) to measure social capital in terms of aggregate associational involvement and generalized trust. They find that social capital is a significant mediator between state-level income inequality and mortality rates.

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                                                                                                        • Kawachi, Ichiro, S. V. Subramanian, and Daniel Kim, eds. 2008. Social capital and health. New York: Springer.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-71311-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This volume collects a number of reviews of studies of the relationship between social capital and various health outcomes. Contributions include a useful overview chapter, chapters on data and measurement, and separate chapters that address research on the link between social capital and physical health, mental health, health-related behaviors, aging, health communication, and disaster preparedness.

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                                                                                                          • Pearce, Neil, and George Davey Smith. 2003. Is social capital the key to inequalities in health? American Journal of Public Health 93.1: 122–129.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.93.1.122Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Pearce and Smith question the apparent role of social capital in the link between inequality and health outcomes such as mortality. They focus in particular on measures of community-level social capital, arguing that such measures have little connection to individual-level health outcomes. They therefore urge caution in health policy applications of social capital research.

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                                                                                                            • Poortinga, Wouter. 2006. Social capital: An individual or collective resource for health? Social Science & Medicine 62.2: 292–302.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.06.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Poortinga addresses a central tension of the concept of social capital—the distinction between its individual and collective properties. Analysis of European Social Survey data suggests that the health effects of social capital stem more from individual-level dimensions (e.g., civic involvement) than from contextual factors (e.g., aggregate civic participation). Poortinga also finds that the influence of individual social capital depends on aggregate levels of social capital.

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                                                                                                              • Szreter, Simon, and Michael Woolcock. 2004. Health by association? Social capital, social theory, and the political economy of public health. International Journal of Epidemiology 33.4: 650–667.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyh013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                The theoretical article addresses several mechanisms through which social capital is thought to affect health. The authors discuss different forms of social capital (e.g., bonding and bridging capital), address theoretical bases for hypothesizing relationships between them and public health, and consider policy implications of these different perspectives.

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                                                                                                                Given the assumption that social connections are valuable, there is particular concern among scholars over immigration, its effects on immigrants’ social capital, and implications for immigrant outcomes. Portes and Sensenbrenner 1993 describes a number of potentially fruitful uses of the concept of social capital in the study of immigrants. Sanders and Nee 1996 demonstrates the importance of family social ties for immigrants’ abilities to establish businesses and self-employment, and Aguilera and Massey 2003 explores the effects of migrants’ social capital on their wages and employment. The most recent articles in this entry (Cheong, et al. 2007; Portes and Vickstrom 2011) review research that considers the effects of ethnic and racial diversity on community social capital, and consider policy implications.

                                                                                                                • Aguilera, Michael B., and Douglas S. Massey. 2003. Social capital and the wages of Mexican migrants: New hypotheses and tests. Social Forces 82.2: 671–701.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/sof.2004.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This study of Mexican migrants shows that the success of their job searches depends on their social capital. Having friends and relatives with migratory experience improves migrants’ labor market outcomes in terms of wages and formal sector employment. Several conditions of these effects are discussed.

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                                                                                                                  • Cheong, Pauline Hope, Rosalind Edwards, Harry Goulbourne, and John Solomos. 2007. Immigration, social cohesion and social capital: A critical review. Critical Social Policy 27.1: 24–49.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0261018307072206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This article reviews research on the connection between immigration, ethnic diversity, and community cohesion throughout the world. The authors critique research that assumes a negative effect of diversity on cohesion and social capital, based partly on a critique of the concept of social capital itself. The authors question policy efforts that invoke social capital in efforts to increase social cohesion.

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                                                                                                                    • Portes, Alejandro, and Julia Sensenbrenner. 1993. Embeddedness and immigration: Notes on the social determinants of economic action. American Journal of Sociology 98.6: 1320–1350.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/230191Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      This largely theoretical article forges a link between immigrants’ social capital and their capacity for economic action, including the role of trust and social cohesion in the creation of and involvement in local markets and enterprises, individual outcomes such as employment, and broader issues related to social conflict.

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                                                                                                                      • Portes, Alejandro, and Erik Vickstrom. 2011. Diversity, social capital, and cohesion. Annual Review of Sociology 37.1: 461–479.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-081309-150022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        This paper discusses the growing body of research on the implications of ethno-racial diversity in general, as related to immigration and otherwise, for social capital. The paper questions the claim that diversity reduces social cohesion, and reviews studies that provide mixed, contingent, and sometimes contradictory evidence to this effect.

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                                                                                                                        • Sanders, Jimy M., and Victor Nee. 1996. Immigrant self-employment: The family as social capital and the value of human capital. American Sociological Review 61.2: 231–249.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2096333Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Sanders and Nee provide a valuable illustration of the effects of social capital on immigrants’ self-employment and small-business prospects. They argue that, in general, social capital provides the resources some Asian and Hispanic immigrants need to establish successful enterprises.

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                                                                                                                          One of the most interesting applications of social capital theory is to the study of crime. Social capital is often treated as a component of social organization (as opposed to disorganization) and informal social control. This research tends to be ecological, typically focusing on rates of crime in neighborhoods, cities, or states. This section presents some of the most influential studies along these lines, including studies of the link between social capital and homicide (Rosenfeld, et al. 2001) and other forms of crime and incarceration (Kennedy, et al. 1998; Rose and Clear 1998). We also present studies that give more balanced accounts of the role of social capital, in which the value of the concept in predicting homicide is juxtaposed to the role of other social-structural measures (Morenoff, et al. 2001), and where rigorous analysis of homicide rates yields mixed results across different measures of social capital (Messner, et al. 2004).

                                                                                                                          • Kennedy, Bruce P., Ichiro Kawachi, Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Kimberly Lochner, and Vanita Gupta. 1998. Social capital, income inequality, and firearm violent crime. Social Science & Medicine 47.1: 7–17.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00097-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This paper argues that the positive links between social inequality and rates of homicide and violent crime are mediated through social capital. It shows that income inequality is associated with lower levels of social capital (measured in terms of aggregate levels of group membership and trust), which are in turn associated with higher crime rates.

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                                                                                                                            • Messner, Steven F., Eric P. Baumer, and Richard Rosenfeld. 2004. Dimensions of social capital and rates of criminal homicide. American Sociological Review 69.6: 882–903.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              The authors examine the relationship between social capital and homicide rates. They find that many aspects of social capital are not related to homicide rates, and that other factors are related in opposite ways to homicide. Social trust is negatively associated with homicide rates, whereas levels of social activism are positively associated with them. They also find reciprocal effects, whereby homicide rates affect social capital.

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                                                                                                                              • Morenoff, Jeffrey D., Robert J. Sampson, and Stephen W. Raudenbush. 2001. Neighborhood inequality, collective efficacy, and the spatial dynamics of urban violence. Criminology 39.3: 517–558.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2001.tb00932.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                These authors question treatments of social capital that emphasize strong ties, and argue that dense networks can reinforce criminal tendencies and impede social control. Their analysis suggests that voluntary associations, organizations, and networks only reduce homicide rates to the extent that they facilitate informal social control and collective efficacy within neighborhoods.

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                                                                                                                                • Rose, Dina R., and Todd R. Clear. 1998. Incarceration, social capital, and crime: Implications for social disorganization theory. Criminology 36.3: 441–480.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.1998.tb01255.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  This theoretical paper addresses the link between formal social control, informal social capital, and crime. The authors argue that excessive social control (i.e., incarceration) is at cross purposes with social capital, insofar as incarceration depletes communities of the social ties that are needed to achieve dense social networks and collective efficacy.

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                                                                                                                                  • Rosenfeld, Richard, Eric P. Baumer, and Steven F. Messner. 2001. Social capital and homicide. Social Forces 80.1: 283–310.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2001.0086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This paper examines the relationship between homicide rates across geographic areas and aggregate measures of voting, organizational membership, and trust. Analyses show that social capital has a direct effect on homicide rates, controlling for other predictors and reciprocal effects.

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                                                                                                                                    Economy and Development

                                                                                                                                    Social capital is a particularly contentious concept in economic development research, not least because scholars have yet to reach agreement regarding how to conceptualize and measure social capital. In this section we provide references on different sides of these debates. Many scholars have adopted Putnam’s conceptualization while others (for example, Fukuyama [see Fukuyama 2002]) have developed their own conceptualizations. Several articles (e.g., Woolcock 1998; Woolcock and Narayan 2000) outline theoretical foundations for the argument that social capital affects economic development, while others suggest that the concept suffers from a theoretical imprecision that precludes its application to economic scholarship. Research does not yet provide a clear solution to these issues. DeFilippis 2001 offers a critique of the use of Putnam’s conceptualization of social capital, while Gittell and Vidal 1998 addresses its utility. Knack and Keefer 1997 finds empirical support for the effects on economic development of some elements of social capital but not others. One area in which scholars do seem to be in some agreement is that social capital is difficult to create through policy (see Fukuyama 2002 and Vollan 2012). Finally, Fedderke, et al. 1999 defines social capital as the rules, norms, and values that lower transaction costs and thus facilitate coordinated action.

                                                                                                                                    • DeFilippis, James. 2001. The myth of social capital in community development. Housing Policy Debate 12.4: 781–806.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2001.9521429Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This article presents a critical view of the use of Putnam’s social capital by community development researchers and practitioners. Most of the article is used to carefully distinguish Putnam’s understanding, use, and measurement of social capital from that of Loury and Bourdieu, whose approach DeFilippis finds valuable. The paper includes a brief discussion of particular housing policies and community organizations.

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                                                                                                                                      • Fedderke, Johannes, Raphael De Kadt, and John Luiz. 1999. Economic growth and social capital: A critical reflection. Theory and Society 28.5: 709–745.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1023/A:1007021914850Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This theoretical article defines social capital as the rules, norms, and values that lower transaction costs and thus facilitate coordinated action. The authors analyze three puzzles: (1) whether more social capital is always better for economic growth; (2) whether, as economic growth occurs, new forms of social capital will be needed; and (3) and whether it matters if particular forms of social capital come to dominate.

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                                                                                                                                        • Fukuyama, Francis. 2002. Social capital and development: The coming agenda. SAIS Review 22.1: 23–37.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/sais.2002.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Fukuyama claims that the policies of the “Washington Consensus” were not misguided but only missing an important element—social capital. He argues that social capital helps policymakers focus on the cultural elements of societies that are essential to understand for development and institutional reform. Fukuyama discusses the lingering disagreements over how to define and measure social capital.

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                                                                                                                                          • Gittell, Ross, and Avis Vidal. 1998. Community organizing: Building social capital as a development strategy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                            This book addresses Putnam’s influence in the community development industry and how social capital has been adopted and implemented within it. Specifically, the authors analyze the successes and failures in social capital in terms of a large community development project; the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

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                                                                                                                                            • Knack, Stephen, and Philip Keefer. 1997. Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics 112.4: 1251–1288.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1162/003355300555475Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              These authors analyze the relationship between various elements of social capital and economic growth in twenty-nine market economies. They find that trust and civic norms are higher in countries with more equal income distributions and greater ethnic homogeneity. They do not find an association between organizational membership and trust. They conclude that trust and civic norms are associated with economic growth.

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                                                                                                                                              • Vollan, Björn. 2012. Pitfalls of externally initiated collective action: A case study from South Africa. World Development 40.4: 758–770.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.09.016Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                While accepting that social capital can facilitate community development, Vollan questions whether outside groups can foster social capital within communities. Through work comparing communities in South Africa, he concludes that outsides groups sometimes weaken rather than strengthen community coordination efforts.

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                                                                                                                                                • Woolcock, Michael. 1998. Social capital and economic development: Toward a theoretical synthesis and policy framework. Theory and Society 27.2: 151–208.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1023/A:1006884930135Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  This theoretical article develops a four-dimensional conceptualization of social capital that includes two micro-level dimensions (“integration” and “linkage” within and between groups) and two macro-level dimensions (“integrity” and “synergy” of states and institutions). The paper then considers how the interactions of these dimensions shape economic development.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Woolcock, Michael, and Deepa Narayan. 2000. Social capital: Implications for development theory, research, and policy. World Bank Research Observer 15.2: 225–249.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/wbro/15.2.225Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Woolcock and Narayan see social capital as playing an important role in bringing together sociologists and economists to forge more effective economic development policies. They outline four different perspectives in economic development research and discuss which perspectives show the most promise for future theory and policy development.

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                                                                                                                                                    Governance and Public Policy

                                                                                                                                                    It is partly through research in governance and public policy that the sociological concept of social capital has reached a diverse audience. Social capital has been a highly influential concept in this literature as well as highly criticized (also see the section Economy and Development). Following Putnam’s foundational work on civic engagement and democratic institutions in Italy (see Putnam 1993 cited under Foundational Works), many scholars see social capital as the essential element in democratic governance (Fukuyama 2001; Putnam 2002). However, others note that social capital functions interdependently with the state and other institutions (Bowles and Gintis 2002; Harriss and De Renzio 1997; Krishna 2002; Paxton 2002; Skocpol and Fiorina 1999).

                                                                                                                                                    • Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 2002. Social capital and community governance. Economic Journal 112.483: 419–436.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/1468-0297.00077Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Bowles and Gintis argue that community governance, which is a concept directly based on social capital, should be considered a complement to market and state governance regimes. They also argue that community governance can be developed (as other authors argue that social capital can be developed) to improve economic outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Fukuyama, Francis. 2001. Social capital, civil society and development. Third World Quarterly 22.1: 7–20.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/713701144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Fukuyama makes the case that social capital plays a distinctly political role. Drawing heavily on de Tocqueville, he argues that modern democracy in the United States leaves individuals socially unorganized. Social capital, however, produces a civil society, which in turn produces a sense of community and allows individuals to act collectively in their political interest.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Harriss, John, and Paolo De Renzio. 1997. POLICY ARENA: “Missing link” or analytically missing?: The concept of social capital. Edited by John Harriss. An Introductory Bibliographic Essay. Journal of International Development 9.7: 919–937.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1328(199711)9:7%3C919::AID-JID496%3E3.0.CO;2-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          These authors critically discuss the claim that social capital leads to good governance. They offer a thorough review of the critical literature and that which suggests that a singular focus on social capital without consideration of state development is not sufficient to solve governance problems.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Krishna, Anirudh. 2002. Active social capital: Tracing the roots of development and democracy. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            This in-depth study of sixty-nine villages in North India examines the role of social capital in facilitating economic development, as well as in strengthening democratic institutions and in promoting peace among local communities. Krishna shows that social capital leads to collective action, especially where communities have strong leaders.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Paxton, Pamela. 2002. Social capital and democracy: An interdependent relationship. American Sociological Review 67.2: 254–277.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3088895Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Paxton provides a theoretical and empirical analysis of the link between voluntary associations and democracy. In this cross-national study, she documents a reciprocal relationship between democracy and social capital, and also notes that different types of associations (e.g., bird-watching organizations versus the AARP) have different implications for democracy. Connected associations have a positive effect on democracy, whereas isolated associations have a negative effect.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Putnam, Robert D., ed. 2002. Democracies in flux: The evolution of social capital in contemporary society. New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/0195150899.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                This edited volume offers both further theoretical development of the link between social capital and democratic institutions and empirical analyses of this relationship. These analyses span eight different advanced democracies and consider the trends in social capital within them.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Skocpol, Theda, and Morris Fiorina, eds. 1999. Civic Engagement in American Democracy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This edited volume documents declines in various forms of civic engagement in the United States during the 20th century as well as the emergence of new forms. Several chapters highlight the role of the state and electoral politics in shaping civic engagement, while others examine cultural, technological, organizational, and socio-demographic factors.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Organizational Social Capital

                                                                                                                                                                  In research on organizations, the term “social capital” has evolved to refer to the social resources that exist within and between firms and organizations. This can refer to the network ties of a given organization to other organizations or to the social resources associated with individuals or groups that operate within organizations (Adler and Kwon 2002, Leana and Van Buren 1999). Most of this research has considered the implications of these forms of social capital for organizations themselves, especially firms (Reagans and Zuckerman 2001; Tsai and Ghoshal 1998; Yli-Renko, et al. 2001). Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998 examines how the organizational structure of firms facilitates the development of social capital and its associated benefits among individuals within firms. Finally, some works sees social capital as a broader industry construct (Walker, et al. 1997).

                                                                                                                                                                  • Adler, Paul S., and Seok-Woo Kwon. 2002. Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review 27.1: 17–40.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Adler and Kwon develop a conceptual framework of social capital that includes the sources, risks and benefits, value, and contingencies of social capital. Each component is developed based on a careful synthesis of previous theoretical work. They discuss the applicability of the concept of social capital to organizational research in general.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Leana, Carrie R., and Harry J. Van Buren. 1999. Organizational social capital and employment practices. Academy of Management Review 24.3: 538–555.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Leana and Van Buren develop the concept of “organizational social capital,” which they define in terms of workers’ willingness and ability to work together and mutual trust. Organizational social capital facilitates organizational collective efficacy, which can benefit both workers and the organization. Employment practices, such as compensation policies and downsizing, can increase or decrease an organization’s social capital.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Nahapiet, Janine, and Sumantra Ghoshal. 1998. Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management Review 23.2: 242–266.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Nahapiet and Ghoshal consider how social capital within organizations leads to the creation of intellectual capital. The authors describe a “coevolution” of social and intellectual capital in organizations, which they argue provides an explanation of the link between organizational advantage and intellectual capital. They also note that the structure of organizations affects the development of social capital.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Reagans, Ray, and Ezra W. Zuckerman. 2001. Networks, diversity, and productivity: The social capital of corporate R&D teams. Organization Science 12.4: 502–517.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1287/orsc.12.4.502.10637Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This paper tests the impact of social capital on team productivity. The authors propose to settle the debate over whether tightly knit groups, which would work well together, are more productive than more diverse groups, which would have access to more diverse information. They find that groups with high levels of interaction that are also diverse are the most productive.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Tsai, Wenpin, and Sumantra Ghoshal. 1998. Social capital and value creation: The role of intrafirm networks. Academy of Management Journal 41.4: 464–476.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/257085Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Using the framework that Nahapiet and Ghoshal 1998 develops, these authors empirically test the influence of social capital on product innovation within a large electronics company. They conclude that social capital investments within firms—in terms of increased interaction between workers and a shared vision—pay off with value creation.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Walker, Gordon, Bruce Kogut, and Weijian Shan. 1997. Social capital, structural holes and the formation of an industry network. Organization Science 8.2: 109–125.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1287/orsc.8.2.109Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This paper considers the network structure of the relationships between biotechnology firms over time. The authors empirically assess whether social capital, which is based on network position, or opportunism drives the changes in the network structure. They find that social capital drives the network formation among biotech firms.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Yli-Renko, Helena, Erkko Autio, and Harry J. Sapienza. 2001. Social capital, knowledge acquisition, and knowledge exploitation in young technology-based firms. Strategic Management Journal 22.6–7: 587–613.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1002/smj.183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This paper analyzes survey data on young technology-based firms, assessing whether social capital impacts firm knowledge acquisition and knowledge exploitation. The authors find that greater interaction between firms and their key customers allows firms to acquire and exploit more knowledge for organizational advantage in markets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Community and Neighborhood Social Capital

                                                                                                                                                                                Some social capital theorists’ emphasis on the community or neighborhood as a primary site for the genesis of social capital has inspired much work on the relationship between social capital and community- and neighborhood-level characteristics and outcomes. Many of these have already been discussed in this article, especially in the substantive sections (e.g., Crime, Governance and Public Policy). This section introduces additional studies along these lines, including articles on the relationship between neighborhood social capital and neighborhood stability (Temkin and Rohe 1998), debates over levels of different forms of neighborhood social cohesion and social capital (Forrest and Kearns 2001), on the influence of the neighborhood’s built environment on social capital (Leyden 2003), and on the relative virtues of Putnam’s and Bourdieu’s conceptualizations of social capital (Carpiano 2006), and a study about the distinction between bonding and bridging forms of community social capital (Coffé and Geys 2007).

                                                                                                                                                                                • Carpiano, Richard M. 2006. Toward a neighborhood resource-based theory of social capital for health: Can Bourdieu and sociology help? Social Science & Medicine 62:165–175.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.05.020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  This paper argues that a Bourdieu-inspired approach to social capital may be more useful in studies of neighborhood social capital (especially with respect to its relationship to health) than Putnam-inspired approaches. This involves considering not only community social networks and organizations, but also the aggregate resources available in the neighborhood and residents’ abilities to access them.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Coffé, Hilde, and Benny Geys. 2007. Toward an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 36:121–139.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0899764006293181Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    This paper addresses the distinction between “bonding” and “bridging” forms of community social capital. The former refers to social capital that derives from network connections within homogeneous groups or organizations and the latter stems from heterogeneous networks that cut across diverse social groups within a community. This study examines data from a Flemish survey to assess which types of voluntary associations give rise to which forms of social capital.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Forrest, Ray, and Ade Kearns. 2001. Social cohesion, social capital and the neighbourhood. Urban Studies 38.12: 2125–2143.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/00420980120087081Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      This paper is a critical review of research on the supposed social cohesion crisis (i.e., collapse of community). It provides a valuable overview of different positions in debates about declining social cohesion and addresses the role that neighborhoods play in this. It describes elements of neighborhood-specific forms of social cohesion and social capital, and examines their distribution in the United Kingdom.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Leyden, Kevin M. 2003. Social capital and the built environment: The importance of walkable neighborhoods. American Journal of Public Health 93:1546–1551.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.93.9.1546Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        This Jane Jacobs–inspired study demonstrates the importance of pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods in the formation of social capital for residents. The author uses data on neighborhoods in Ireland to show that residents of these kinds of neighborhoods have more social capital than residents of car-oriented suburbs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Temkin, Kenneth, and William M. Rohe. 1998. Social capital and neighborhood stability: An empirical investigation. Housing Policy Debate 9:61–88.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/10511482.1998.9521286Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          This article outlines a number of sociocultural and institutional bases of neighborhood social capital. Using data on Pittsburgh neighborhoods, it shows that these forms of social capital together play a major role in stabilizing neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that have more social capital experience less decline in neighborhood property values.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Trends in Social Capital

                                                                                                                                                                                          An enduring empirical claim about social capital—and one that has helped to incite widespread interest in the topic—is that social capital has declined significantly since the middle of the 20th century. This claim was first articulated by Putnam in several highly influential studies (Putnam 1995 and Putnam 2000) of social capital in the United States. This section includes those studies, as well as studies that have tested this hypothesis using sophisticated analytical techniques (Paxton 1999, Schwadel and Stout 2012), a parallel analysis of trends in social capital in Britain (Hall 1999), and a paper that reviews theoretical and empirical work on this question in the United States and elsewhere (Stolle and Hooghe 2005).

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hall, Peter A. 1999. Social capital in Britain. British Journal of Political Science 29:417–461.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0007123499000204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Inspired by the debate over trends in social capital in America, this paper asks whether similar trends are apparent in Britain. The authors find no evidence of any erosion of social capital there with respect to socializing, trust, and community involvement. The authors discuss several explanations for the robustness of social capital in Britain.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Paxton, Pamela. 1999. Is social capital declining in the United States?: A multiple indicator assessment. American Journal of Sociology 105.1: 88–127.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1086/210268Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Paxton conducts a detailed analysis of twenty-year trends in multiple measures of social capital in the United States. It demonstrates that while there has been a decline in some measures of social capital, there has been no decline in others. This paper provides one of the first cautionary tales about making blanket claims about over-time trends in social capital.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Putnam, Robert D. 1995. Tuning in, tuning out: The strange disappearance of social capital in America. PS: Political Science and Politics 28.4: 664–683.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/420517Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                This article is largely recognized as having first sounded the alarm regarding an apparent decline of social capital in the United States. Putnam presents powerful but limited evidence of declines in various forms of social capital and considers several possible explanations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Putnam, Robert D. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Bowling Alone, Putnam examines trends in a number of forms of social capital, including social network ties, civic engagement and voluntary associations, social norms, and trust. The book uses numerous representative data sources to document declines across a large number of these measures in the decades leading to the publication of this book and explores a number of possible explanations for these trends.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Schwadel, Philip, and Michael Stout. 2012. Age, period and cohort effects on social capital. Social Forces 91.1: 233–252.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/sf/sos062Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Schwadel and Stout present a sophisticated analysis of trends in several forms of social capital—including informal ties to neighbors and friends, formal associations, and trust—over a nearly forty-year period in the United States. The authors show that there have been declines in some but not all of these forms of social capital and that changes are attributable to combinations of age, period, and cohort effects that deserve closer scrutiny.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Stolle, Dietlind, and Marc Hooghe. 2005. Inaccurate, exceptional, one-sided or irrelevant?: The debate about the alleged decline of social capital and civic engagement in Western societies. British Journal of Political Science 35:149–167.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0007123405000074Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This article provides a much-needed review of theoretical and empirical work that addresses the question of whether social capital is declining. The article considers foundational arguments and critiques, reviews research on trends outside the United States, and discusses emerging sources of and substitutes for older forms of social capital.

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