Social capital measurement problems

For more than 10 years I have been following the literature on social capital measurement, and hoping that someone will publish a thorough synthesis and analysis of measurement techniques to produce at least a good guide to its measurement in different contexts.

I suspect this is a (near) impossible task given the commonly discussed problems with conceptualising and measuring social capital.

In the absence of such work researchers tend to identify the important elements or factors that suit their research context and develop their own instrument.

This is very effective in most cases as long as the researcher has sufficient understanding to develop an instrument informed by theory, and the ability to be critical of the potential for the instrument to make assumptions about the connection between the proxies being investigated and the elements of social capital.

This is not always the case given that many social capital researchers are approaching the concept from other disciplines and may lack awareness of these issues, which are common in social science research.

I would like to attempt a conceptually informed guide to social capital measurement one day.

Is this of interest to anyone?

Tristan Claridge completed a Masters thesis on social capital theory in 2004 at the University of Queensland. Although Tristan originally wanted to apply social capital theory to natural resource management outcomes in Australia, he found that the current understanding of social capital was not sufficiently conceptualised to allow this application. Read more

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8 comments on “Social capital measurement problems
  1. Rebecca Calder says:

    Hi Tristan
    I’ve spent the last 3 hours reading your site with interest! I’m an anthropologist now working for the past 25 years as a social development specialist for various aid agencies and now as an independent researcher and consultant. I’ve got a keen interest in social capital in relation to social protection, though I have been away from the academic literature on social capital for a while (hence my interest in your excellent site!).

    A colleague and I are just starting some research in Fiji that will look at how informal social protection flows (or doesn’t flow) through social networks. We will explore the connections between vulnerability and inequality by examining how vulnerability arising from the operation of social networks serves as a mechanism for reproducing inequalities at the local level. The study will be qualitative, and due to time and resource constraints not as in-depth as I would have liked, but hopefully interesting and informative none-the-less.

    I would like to share our research design with you. Would this be of interest to you?

    Kind regards
    Rebecca

  2. Priyanka says:

    Hi Tristan, i am very new learner about social capital. Through out my masters degree i have liked this topic most. As a result, i have chosen the thesis paper on this theory. my thesis paper mainly focus on the ethnic conflict between the majority Bangalee community and indigenous people of Bangladesh. Regarding this study, which kind of indicators i can use to measure the social capital?could you please give me some ideas on it?.i would appreaciate if any articles or documents you can suggest..thanks

  3. noor says:

    hi
    pleaseeeee i have some proplem in writing my theises its about social capital i want some articel about it and theori please any one help me please

  4. Tajir Hussain says:

    hello all.
    i am a student of social sciences, i am working on my M. Phil thesis.. i need literature in social capital.. i need ur support. plz send me some articles on social capital via email.. thanks

  5. upasna says:

    I think that would be a great starting point. It would remove a lot of misconceptions and provide a heads up to ppl who might be doing the same thing or repeating same mistakes.

  6. Hi Guys
    I am currently researching on social capital within social enterprise and would really like your thoughts or access to your articles on social capital measurement. My sample client group is adults with learning disabilites and lots of the current measurement tools will be difficult to implement with thi group so would really appreciate your thoughts or advice on generating your own method or tool for measurement.

  7. Corry ehlen says:

    DearTristan,
    Yes, for sure.
    In a few weeks or month I wil send you my articles.if they are accepted.
    I too have made my own way in measuring social capital.
    I would like to hear your comment on
    It.and am curious to your findings.
    Best regards,
    Corry
    Ehlen

    • Tristan Claridge says:

      Yes please Corry. Please send your articles when you’re ready. I would be interested in reading your ideas on this issue.

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