Heiner Meulemann Institut für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie Universität zu Köln. Institut für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie Greinstraße 2, D50939 Köln Tel. 0221 - 470 5658, Fax 0221 - 470 5169 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Perspectives on Social Capital
Institut für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie
Greinstraße2, D50939 KölnTel. 0221 - 470 5658, Fax 0221 - 470 5169e-mail: email@example.com
Perspectives on SocialCapital
Definition, questions and some results from the European Social Survey
Lecture at the University of Limerick, Ireland, January 25, 2013
1 Howissocialcapital (SC) bestdefined?
2 Whichquestions on SC shouldbereserarchedfirst? Andwhichhave? First priority: Transfer hypothesis
- European social survey
- Economic sphere of labour relations
= collective good of organizations. Organizations can be distinguished by their SC – just as by constitution, function, size. Grammatical singular “organization” accidental.
Yet: singular meaningful: “organization” = process sustained by persons. Members of a group interact, “organize themselves”, so that collective products result
Question: what “collective goods” or products?
(1) productivity of a network: from flow of exchanges between persons with positions and intentions
(2) climate of trust: sufficient number of people reciprocate benevolent actions; if number goes down, trust risky, vicious circle: climate of distrust
(3) validity of norm: sufficient number follow norm and sanction violations; if number goes down, vicious circle of deviance and tolerance, norm breaks down
In each case: “collective good” from interaction of members. “Features of organization” established bottom up
Therefore, genus proximum of definition not organizations, but persons.
New definition 1: SC = any property of a group member, which contributes to group outputs.
Contribution of persons also from human or cultural capital
Therefore restricton: only outputs from membership in group.
In pursuing common interest, members form social relations, interactions more densely knit amongst members than with non-members.
Somewhat narrower definition 2: SC = sum of social relations a person holds in groups
Intimate = sexual and generational relations, rest on biology; everybody can, and most will, enter into them. Practiced in “private living arrangements”.
“Private” = “particularistic” (Parsons): person essential for the relation
many mothers, but only my mother is “my” mother
SC consists of “universalistic” relations in “public” realms, persists with interchangeable persons
New and final definition 3: SC = sum of social relations a person holds in groups beyond intimate living arrangements
SC does not “capitalize” by itself. In order to not decay, it must be utilized. What can actors gain from SC?
Due to its relational nature, SC more useful when more relations in group.
Therefore, distinction of contexts of use:
“Relational SC” of persons - “system SC” of group
System SC: conceived of independently of persons as sum of relations.
Person may aim to manipulate and to improve relational SC
System SC of group exists independently of members
Emerging quality in two ways
Measured in surveys by aggregation
In social reality interdependency: some are eager to and some detest emulating other people.
Measurement should follow up interdependency until SC is established
Justification: Practical short-cut?
Yes, but also substantive reasons: some decisions made without looking at others (join a tennis club).
If this holds: measure of system SC as group mean of relational SC also theoretically justified
Danger of circularity: system SC = relational SC. Yet:
Sum of relations of all persons does not necessarily amount to system SC of group.
Example 1: Two persons related = only one relation, counting two relations not correct. However, random samplings: improbable that two persons with relation are drawn. Total as system SC feasible
Example 2: Two persons join same association = one, not two association. Again, random sampling. Furthermore: multiple memberships reflect size of association. Again, total as system SC feasible
SC consists of relations of persons, basically relational
Relations add up within a group to system SC:
(a) network, social structure
(b) civic associations
Although system SC conceived of as independent of relational SC, measurement of system SC through mean of relational SC can be justified. Mean of relational SC = indicator of system SC.
Question: Which properties of system SC fruitful for group member in pursuance of goals?
From (1) density of social relations
to (2) social trust and
(3) validity of norms
This to be shown in following
Network of high mean personal relationships eases moves, each partner has more relations. That is: value of relational SC increases with system SC
Quantity of relations increases the number of ways to attain goals
Quality of relations affects probability of attainment on these ways. In particular:
“Niceness” eases goal attainment. Starts interactions with a cooperative move, and end up better than people starting with a non-cooperative move (Axelrod)
“Nice” relations result from two “nice” tendencies of partners
Trust = overrides suspicion that partner will not give back. More trusting, longer chain of reciprocation, stronger climate of trust
Trust learned in “particularistic” relations, reinforced reciprocally in “universalistic” interactions
I trust in others who have repeatedly not disappointed me, and others trust in me if I have repeatedly not disappointed them.
My trust in others indicates the trust others have in me. Trust not personal attitude alone, but indicator of trustful relations in group.
If trust = indicator of “niceness” of relations,
climate of trust = system SC useful for persons
Norms of cooperation (proscription “not to”), justified by the norm of reciprocity alone.
Norms of institutions (e.g. marital fidelity), additionally justified by values the person beliefs in (“family” or “life”)
Endorsement of norms of cooperation, more or less strongly reciprocated:
Consequently, the more norm held among interaction partners, the more one can uphold norm oneself.
Endorsement of norms = indicator of “nice” relations
Validity of norms of cooperation = system SC
Distinction between density and “niceness” of social relations justifies to classify system SC into Putnam’s triad: “networks, trust, and norms” (order changed!).
- density of relations only justified directly as a system SC
- further arguments required to classify climate of trust and validity of norms of cooperation as system SC: indicators for “niceness” of social relations, not measured directly with reference to relations, but indirectly as means of attitudes.
Test: switch back from system SC to relational SC:
- Just as density of relations = system SC, so relations of person = “relational” capital.
- However, while climate of trust and validity of norms = system SC, trust or norm endorsement not = SC of person.
These twoqualities = dimensionstoclassifyresearchquestions
Money = exchange against goods and services.
Prestige= used to attain goods and services from others.
SC = channels to goods and services.
Each: means to “success”. Yet difference:
Money buys everything of its worth. “Success” no problem.
Prestige, SC: be worked upon to become a means. “Success” problem.
Thus: If SC contributes to success, consequences should before causes. If not, reduced importance of causes.
SC research agenda: 1 consequences - 2 causes
Money “success” for everyone who holds it, first: how got it; second: what done with it.
Money research agenda: 1 causes - 2 consequences
Money = interest, again money
Prestige of education = prestige of occupation
SC = pay off again in social relations
- RelationalSC the more useful, the more embedded in network of relations, the more system SC.
A’s relation to B
= limited value if B knows nobody,
= highly valuable if B at core of network.
Research priority: effects of system SC
1 on a means end chain of some action (“slopes”)
2 on ends themselves (“intercepts”)
Figure 1: Causes versusconsequences, processes versus outputs in SC research
Research up to now:
- not SC per se or causes,
- but consequences for social integration, democracy
At heart of SC research: Transfer hypothesis
Implicit: priority of
- consequences over causes
But apart from that, not clear. .
Meaning specified: using right half of figure 1.
Country level correlation
Corresponding person level effect:
= more citizens in associations, more articulation of interests in democratic decision making
= Transfer from civic life to organized social life.
= Right part of figure 1: SC as a means > action success
(1) Articulation of interests not yet social integration. Further causal link from successes of persons to integration of groups, beyond figure 1 to the right.
(2) Micro relation embedded in macro conditions, not specified. Therefore: both effects of figure 1
Comprises right half of figure 1 as a whole and expands it to the right. To be tested, its four elements must be specified
(1) Macro relation. To which added
Two top down elements:
(2) Effect hypothesis, capitalization of system SC
(3) Mean hypothesis, output of system SC.
A new bottom up element:
(4) From action success to social integration
Transfer of transfer hypothesis
The more someone is involved in private associations, the more..
- able to assert political interests
To labor relationssystem
- attain empowerment at the workplace
= range of discretion in order to make decisions about work
On the level of persons
On the level of countries
- Institutions and opportunity structures of labour relations system
5 Collective: work placesector, size of firm
4 Collective: strategyunion membership,
Empowerment:discretion at work
1 Civic Involvementsocial capital
2 Human Capital in FirmPeople supervised,
Prestige of occupation
3 Human Capital, personpolitical efficacy, education,
Labour relations system:
Favourable to unions
Inventory: “Please say how much the management at your work allows you:
- to be FLEXIBLE in your working hours,
- to DECIDE how your own daily work is organised,
- to influence your work ENVIRONMENT,
- to influence decisions about the general DIRECTION of your work,
- to CHANGE your work tasks if you wish to?”
“0 I have no influence” - “10 I have complete control”
Single question: “To what extent can you ORGANIZE your own work, to a large extent (4), to some extent (3), very little (2) or not at all (1)?” – reversed for analysis
Sample: ESS 2002, employedpopulation
Highest N: 6.69
Lowest PL: 2.49
High: Scandinavian countries, NL
Medium: AU, B, EI, I, LUX
Low: E, GR, PT, D-E, D-W
(1) Civic Involvement: +
(2) Human capital: Person: +
Political efficacy, education, exit options
(3) Human capital: Firm specific: +
People supervised, prestige of occupation
(4) Union membership: +
(5) Work Place
Size, sector of firm
(6) Control variables: Age and Gender
“For each of these voluntary associations, tell me whether any of these things apply to you now or in the last 12 months
- A member of such an organization
- Participated in an activity arranged by such an organization
- Donated money to such an organization
- Done voluntary (unpaid) work for such an organization.”
Membership + participation = belonging
Donation of money + voluntary = engagement
In 5 private associations:
- Index of (1) “How difficult or easy would it be for you to get a similar or better job with another employer?” and (2) “... and to start your own business?”, scale 0 to 10: +
- partner employed: +
Countries characterized by labor rule system LRS, more or less favorable to workers
= rule set and power structure, which exonerate workers from personal endeavor to attain empowerment; if unions successful = Workers less dependent on their own initiative
- Relations between collectivities or individuals
Indicators in following table
Union efficiency hypothesis:
The more collective or individual labor relations of a country favor normatively, or strengthen factually, the unions,
the higher mean empowerment of employees
The more the labor relation system of a country favors unions, the less important individual strategies become for the worker in order to attain empowerment.
Negative cross-level interaction effect between LRS favorable to unions and individual endeavor to attain empowerment, in particular: human capital
Mean Union membership:
Mean:country 25 percentage points above grand mean > predicted intercept of 5.472 + 0.019*25=5.947, half a point on 11 point scale of empowerment.
Slope: country 25 percentage points above mean > predicted slope for
Transfer hypothesis: confirmed. Effects stronger than many effects of more immediate personal factors
- Belonging to and engagement in private associations stronger than belonging to trade unions. Articulation of one’s interest in private realm more easily transformed into empowerment at the workplace than in public realm.
- More distant = more effective route. Longer distances needed to acquire general capacities of self-assertion, while focusing on the very arena of interest narrows down opportunities to learn general capacities. Longer distances = more challenges to generalize.