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Conceptualising and operationalising social capital in government surveys Penny Babb Office for National Statistics.

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Presentation on theme: "Conceptualising and operationalising social capital in government surveys Penny Babb Office for National Statistics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Conceptualising and operationalising social capital in government surveys Penny Babb Office for National Statistics

2 What is social capital Measurement issues Five dimensions of social capital Harmonised Question Set ONS work programme

3 What is social capital? –Social energy –Community spirit / good neighbourliness –Social bonds –Civic virtue –Community networks –Social ozone / Social glue –Social resources –Informal & formal networks

4 Types of social capital Bonding: Sociological Super Glue Bridging: Sociological WD40 Linking

5 Adopt a definition Networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups OECD, 2001

6 Why measure social capital? High social capital (social trust & networks) linked to desirable policy outcomes: –Lower crime rates –Better health and improved longevity –Better educational achievement –Greater income equality –Enhanced economic achievement

7 Why measure social capital? Policy interest in improving community well being –Civil renewal: Local people involved in identifying and solving problems affecting their community –Community cohesion: Promoting a sense of belonging Valuing diversity in others Similar life opportunities

8 Measurement issues Nebulous concept –very difficult to quantify Multi-faceted –Identify underlying dimensions Cross-cultural comparisons –e.g. volunteering means different things to different people – context specific Community attribute –but measured in household surveys at individual level and then aggregating

9 Why harmonise? Enables consistent measurement, analysis and interpretation Better understanding of society –Trends over time –Comparison between local and national studies

10 Five main aspects of social capital –social participation involvement in groups & voluntary activities, religious activity –civic participation voting, taking action on local or national issues, writing to council or MP

11 Five main aspects of social capital –social networks and support contact with friends & relatives, frequency of contact, exchange of help, number living close by –reciprocity and trust giving and receiving favours, trust in other people – like you and not like you, trust in institutions, shared values

12 Five main aspects of social capital –views about the local area physical environment, facilities in the area, enjoyment in living in the area, concern about anti-social behaviour

13 Harmonised question set Standardised set of questions Agreed by a cross-department working group Drew on earlier measures, including HDA/GHS, HO Citizenship Survey Two forms: –Full question set (around 50 questions) –Core question set (15 questions)

14 Harmonised question set For use in household surveys: –Run in GHS 2004 –To be run on: HO Citizenship Survey 2007, Survey of English Housing, Health Survey for England (older people module) 2005, Families and Children Survey 2005 Also being used in local surveys: –Liverpool and Camden councils

15 ONS work programme Bridging social capital –Literature review, plus list of questions specific to bridging Conversion of HQS from CAPI to self-completion Trust and participation in diverse communities Analysis of GHS 2004 module and publication of report –Baseline data on dimensions of social capital in GB

16 For more information address: Webpage:


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