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Is Social Capital a Factor? Keming Yang Department of Sociology University of Reading United Kingdom QMSS.

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Presentation on theme: "Is Social Capital a Factor? Keming Yang Department of Sociology University of Reading United Kingdom QMSS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is Social Capital a Factor? Keming Yang Department of Sociology University of Reading United Kingdom QMSS Conference Prague, June 2007

2 Overview 1.Tackling social capital’s multi- dimensionality: contrasting the factor approach and the index approach; 2.Confirmatory factor analysis; 3.An index of social capital; 4.The distribution of index scores across European countries; 5.Discussions.

3 Social Capital: Two Issues 1.Individual or aggregate? Dealt with in another paper; 2.Multiple dimensions: trust, social networks, civic engagement, etc. Question: How should we deal with the multi-dimensionality in statistical analysis? Factor, or index?

4 Multidimensionality and Quantification Putnam: social capital ‘is stubbornly resistant to quantification’ because ‘social capital is multidimensional, and some of those dimensions themselves are subject to different understandings’ (2002: 11-12). But, in his books, there are many indices, statistics, and graphs.

5 Clarifications 1.Statistics (quantification) are allowed, but on proxy measures, not directly on social capital. 2.Each proxy indicator is quantifiable, but it does not make sense to sum them up (oranges and apples).

6 Explication Social capital is not directly measurable but can be assessed and inferred via the measurement of its observable proxies  social capital is a factor (latent construct). Dimensions of social capital are qualitatively different and therefore not subject to mathematical operation  it is not legitimate to create any index for social capital.

7 Demands for Index Practical: governments, international organizations, charities, etc., need a simple measure of social capital to see the effects of policies and programmes; Theoretical: the amount of social capital: how much does an individual (community, nation, etc.) have?

8 The Factor Approach: The One-Factor Confirmatory Model Social Capital V1V2V3V4V5V6V9V8V7 e1

9 The Factor Approach: A Second-Order Confirmatory Model Social Capital Trust Networks Civic Orgs V1V2V3V5V6V7V4V8V9 e1e2e3e4e5e6e7e8e9

10 The Index Model Social Capital V1V8V7V6V5V4V3V2V9 Kenneth Bollen: ‘cause indicators’ vs. ‘effect indicators’ (Babbie, 2007: 158)

11 Data and Variables Data: ESS (round1, 2002) Variables: –Trust 1.People trusted? (11 point scale) 2.People fair? (11 point scale) 3.People helpful? (11 point scale) –Social network 1.Being social (7 point scale) 2.Relative social participation (5 point scale) 3.Importance of friends in life (11 point scale) –Civic engagement 1.Index of level of engagement in interest-based voluntary organizations (transformed into 11 point scale) 2.Index of level of engagement in influence-based voluntary organizations (transformed into 11 point scale) 3.Importance of VO in life (11 point scale) 4.Importance of being active in VO for a good citizen

12 Polychoric Correlation Matrix (Total effective n=36589) Trust Fair Help Social Activity Friends ImpVO VOCtzn IntrstVO InflVO

13 One-Factor: All countries Chi-square= (df=35); P< ; RMSEA = 0.177

14 One-Factor Model: Austria Chi-square= (df=35); P< ; RMSEA = 0.215

15 Second-Order Factor Model: All countries

16 Second-Order Factor Model: Austria

17 The Second-Order Model: Results by country CountryEffective nchi-squarepRMSEA Austria < Belgium < Denmark < Finland < France < Germany < Greece < Hungary < Ireland < Israel < Note: Czech and Switzerland VO information missing; df=32.

18 The Three-Factor Model: Results by country CountryEffective nchi-squarepRMSEA Italy < Luxembourg < Netherlands < Norway < Poland < Portugal < Slovenia < Spain < Sweden < United Kingdom <

19 From Factor to Index 1.Neither the one-factor model nor the second-order model fits the data; 2.Three forms of social capital are weakly correlated (not reported here); 3.No evidence supports the existence of social capital as a latent construct; an umbrella abstraction; 4.Creating an index by treating observed variables as cause indicators rather than effect indicators.

20 Rationales of Making an Index of Social Capital 1.It may not make sense to add apples and oranges, but it does make sense to measure fruit intake. 2.‘Individual social capital’ lends conceptual support. 3.Allow analysis of the distribution of social capital across individuals, communities and nations. 4.Governments and organizations need a simple and cumulative index.

21 A Simple Cumulative Index Sum of weighted (w) total of each respondent’s scores of i components (c). 1.Ad hoc due to the lack of commonly accepted theories; for this study, items in ESS (i=10); 2.No weights applied except for level of engagement in voluntary organizations; 3.Scales with more points more likely to have higher scores, so all scores with fewer points (‘meet socially’ (7) and ‘social activities’ (5)) are transformed into a scale of ten. 4.Range: 0.34 to 100.

22 Polyserial Correlations (Index and each indicator) IndicatorPS Correlation People trusted?0.53 People fair?0.54 People helpful?0.50 Socially meeting0.38 Social activities0.50 Importance of friends in life0.44 Importance of VO in life0.62 VO for good citizen0.54 Interest-based VO0.61 Influence-based VO0.59

23 Ranking of Social Capital in Europe CountryMeanSE Denmark Netherlands Finland Norway Ireland Sweden Austria Italy Israel

24 Ranking of Social Capital in Europe CountryMeanSE United Kingdom Belgium Luxembourg France Poland Germany Portugal Greece Slovenia Hungary Spain

25 Observations Overall and on average, people in Northern Europe have higher level of social capital, followed by the West, the South and the East; Northern Europe also has the smallest variation of social capital; Van Oorschot, Arts and Gelissen (2006) found a similar pattern without making an index; Ignore specific components; Reliability of the index needs to be established, perhaps by accuracy of prediction.

26 What’s Next? 1.Consensus on the components and their corresponding weights in the composite index of individual social capital; 2.Theories and empirical research for explaining the level of social capital at the individual level; 3.Relative distribution analysis of social capital index across groups;


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