Towards an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital
[Zur empirischen Charakterisierung von heterogenen (bridging) und homogenen (bonding) Arten des Sozialkapitals]
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.
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