15 Jan 2013

Social capital measurement

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Attempts to measure social capital are flawed by problems with separating form, source and consequences – a common problem with the conceptualisation of social capital. Unfortunately few researchers understand this complexity and readily confuse the three, resulting in measurement indicies that don’t rigorously reflect the state of social capital in the study context.

Social capital is difficult, if not impossible to measure directly and that for empirical purposes the use of proxy indicators is necessary.  Social capital has constructs that are inherently abstract and require subjective interpretation in their translation into operational measures, that are invariably indirect surrogates of their associated constructs. Existing measures of social capital are subject to criticism because researchers often define terms differently and because it is difficult to develop concrete, tangible evidence of social capital that lends itself to quantitative analysis.

Producing anything like a believable census of a society’s stock of social capital is a nearly impossible task, since it involves multiplying numbers that are either subjectively estimated or simply non-existent. Where social capital has been measured to date, it has often been done so using ‘questionable measures’, often designed for other purposes, and without sufficient regard to the theoretical underpinnings of the concept to ensure validity or reliability.

Tristan Claridge has a passion for technology, innovation and teaching. He is an academic and entrepreneur, and he uses his cross-discipline knowledge and experience to solve problems and identify opportunities. He has bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Queensland in Australia. He has qualifications in environmental science, social theory, teaching and research, and business management.

Tristan is dedicated to the application of social capital theory to organisations. His diverse experience in teaching, research, and business has given him a unique perspective on organisational social capital and the potential improvements that can be achieved in any organisation.

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One Comment

  • chuks October 20, 2013

    I am running my PhD and it has to do with social capital and health. I will like to know the components that make up social capital and how best to measure them.

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