What does it mean to measure social capital?
To measure social capital means to attempt to quantify the stock of social capital in a given context. Unfortunately, there is considerable debate and controversy over the possibility, desirability, and practicability of measuring social capital. The measurement of social capital is closely linked to its definition and conceptualisation – both of which are contested in the literature.
The most common way to measure social capital is to gather information about each dimension: structural, cognitive and relational. This has been done using either quantitative or qualitative methods, by survey questions or by interviews, or both.
Social capital cannot be measured directly but can be inferred from its powerful effects. Since we cannot measure social capital directly we measure it by using indicators or “proxies” that are theoretically linked to social capital. Unfortunately, the choice of indicators and the method of data collection has often resulted in questionable validity. In the past authors have taken a single or small set of indicators to represent social capital. For example, some authors have positioned social capital as trust, or as trust and membership in voluntary associations.
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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.