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How to make head or tail of bridging and bonding? Adressing the methodological ambiguity
[Wie ist ‘Briding vs. Bonding’ sozialer Netzwerke zu verstehen? Das Problem der methodischen Zweideutigkeit]

  • Geys, Benny

A distinction has recently been proposed between bridging (or encompassing) and bonding (or inward-looking) social networks. However, existing theoretical contributions remain vague as to the fundamental meaning of both concepts. As a consequence, two distinct interpretations have evolved alongside each other. In the present paper, we employ data on voluntary association membership in Flanders to empirically illustrate that both approaches can lead to substantially different outcomes and therefore appear to tap into different dimensions of bridging versus bonding. These findings underline the problematic nature of the current conceptual ambiguity. We conclude that should the bridging-bonding distinction add meaningfully to our understanding of the external effects of social networks, it is essential to resolve the conceptual and methodological imprecision.

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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 2007-11.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200711
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  1. 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 2005-2, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
  2. Quibria, M.G., 2003. "The Puzzle of Social Capital: A Critical Review," MPRA Paper 2640, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2003.
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