OECD Statistics Working Papers

ISSN :
1815-2031 (online)
DOI :
10.1787/18152031
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The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Paper
Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

 

Four Interpretations of Social Capital

An Agenda for Measurement You or your institution have access to this content

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Author(s):
Katherine Scrivens1, Conal Smith1
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

Publication Date
10 Dec 2013
Bibliographic information
No:
2013/06
Pages
71
DOI
10.1787/5jzbcx010wmt-en

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This paper looks beyond the broad notion of social capital – which has been applied to a number of different phenomena –in order to clarify (i) the range of different elements that are encompassed by the term; and (ii) what needs to be done to further statistical research and development in order to lay the groundwork for establishing guidelines for better comparative measures in the future. The paper starts by describing the origins of the concept of social capital and the evolution of different approaches in the literature on this subject: it argues that there is not one single interpretation of social capital but rather several different approaches, which need to be more clearly distinguished in order for research and measurement to advance. The paper identifies four main ways in which the concept of "social capital" has been conceptualised and measured -- i) personal relationships; ii) social network support; iii) civic engagement; and iv) trust and cooperative norms -- reflecting different views of what social capital ‘is’ and implying different research agendas. The paper then looks at each of these four area in turn, assessing their meaning, functionings, and areas of policy relevance. Finally, the paper looks at measurement issues, providing examples of the measures on each of the four areas from national and international surveys. Recommendations for further statistical work in the field of social capital measurement are supported by a database of the survey questions used in around 50 surveys worldwide, available at www.oecd.org/std/social-capital-project-and-question-databank.htm.