Structural determinants of civic attitudes- a cross-country perspective on the measurement of bridging social capital
Chair of Macrosociology Dresden University of Technology Dresden, Germany
The present article elaborates sources and effects of social capital that is generated by individuals through organizational affiliation by examining different measurement approaches applied so far in distinct empirical studies. Whether associational membership generates bridging or bonding types of social capital is analyzed in a comparative analysis by a large data set (n=39990) for 21 countries. By modeling the distinct determinants within a Structural Equation Modeling, the approach infers both multiple indicators and multiple causes for a latent construct such as social capital. Comparing network connectedness, social stratification of groups and intensity of civic involvement of individual members, the potential micro and meso level characteristics are linked to different outcomes captured by indicators for attitudes towards government (diffuse support), political interest, trust in strangers and attitudes towards immigrants. Results suggest that network interconnectedness and individual investments of time and resources for a common purpose complement each other in accounting for bonding and bridging aspects of organizations. That is, the study confirms recent claims that the concept of social capital remains a useful and non tautological concept when it is embedded in theories of collective actions.