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Towards an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital


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  • Coffé, Hilde
  • Geys, Benny


Though a vast amount of empirical work stresses the beneficial effects of social capital, the recent literature has explicitly recognized the importance of distinguishing different types of social capital. Particularly, a distinction has been made between homogeneous (or bonding) and heterogeneous (or bridging) networks under the argument that the latter are more likely to generate positive externalities than the former. The empirical operationalization of this theoretical distinction has thus far, however, remained underdeveloped. We take a step to resolve this issue by assessing the diversity of (voluntary) association membership on a number of socio-economic traits. The proposed methodology is applied to Flemish survey data on voluntary association membership. This analysis indicates that hobby clubs and humanitarian associations such as the Red Cross are among the most bridging associations, while women’s groups and associations for retired people are among the most bonding groups. -- In vielen empirischen Arbeiten werden die günstigen Auswirkungen des Sozialkapitals im Allgemeinen unterstrichen. Neueste Veröffentlichungen sind indes dazu übergegangen, ausdrücklich die Bedeutung der Unterscheidung zwischen verschiedenen Arten von Sozialkapital hervorzuheben. Ganz besonders unterscheidet man zwischen homogenen (oder bonding) und heterogenen (oder bridging) Netzwerken, wobei argumentiert wird, dass letztere mit größerer Wahrscheinlichkeit positive externe Effekte erzeugen als die ersten. Die empirische Operationalisierung dieser theoretischen Unterscheidung ist jedoch bisher eher unterentwickelt. In diesem Papier wird ein erster Schritt zur Lösung dieser Frage getan, indem die Diversität von (freiwilligen) Verbandsmitgliedschaften im Hinblick auf einige sozio-ökonomische Charakteristika untersucht wird. Die vorgeschlagene Methodologie wird auf Daten einer flämischen Erhebung zu freiwilligen Vereinsmitgliedschaften angewendet. Diese Analyse zeigt, dass Freizeitclubs und humanitäre Verbände wie z.B. das Rote Kreuz zu den heterogeneren (bridging) Vereinigungen, während Frauengruppen und Seniorenclubs zu den homogeneren (bonding) gehören.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance with number SP II 2006-11.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200611

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Keywords: Social capital; bridging and bonding; voluntary associations; membership heterogeneity; Flemish municipalities;


References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Sjak Smulders, 2003. "Bridging and Bonding Social Capital: which type is good for economic growth?," ERSA conference papers ersa03p517, European Regional Science Association.
  2. Fabio Sabatini, 2006. "Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development: The Case of Italy," Working Papers, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei 2006.14, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Bowen, Harry P. & Moesen, W., 2005. "Benchmarking the competitiveness of nations: non-uniform weighting and non-economic dimensions," Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Working Paper Series, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School 2005-2, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
  4. Fabio Sabatini, 2005. "Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development.The Case of Italy," Development and Comp Systems 0512016, EconWPA.
  5. Fabio Sabatini, 2005. "Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development," Others, EconWPA 0506014, EconWPA.
  6. Fabio Sabatini, 2005. "Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development. The Case of Italy," Development and Comp Systems 0512011, EconWPA.
  7. Knack, Stephen, 2003. " Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 117(3-4), pages 341-55, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Kasarjyan, Milada, 2011. "Improving the functioning of the rural financial markets of Armenia," Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Europe, Leib­niz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), volume 62, number 62.
  2. Geys, Benny & Heinemann, Friedrich & Kalb, Alexander, 2009. "Voter involvement, fiscal autonomy and public sector efficiency: evidence from German municipalities," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2009-02, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).


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