Social Capital Over Time and Across Generations: A Data-Driven Learning Guide Go to Resource


The term social capital is used to refer to connections among people and organizations. These social networks have important implications for social identity, emotional support, as well as the exchange of goods, services, and information.

In his influential book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000), Robert Putnam identified seven dimensions of social capital (political participation, civic participation, religious participation, workplace networks, informal networks, mutual trust, and altruism), and showed that there are two distinct, though not necessarily mutually exclusive, types of social capital: bridging social capital (inclusive, outward-looking social networks), and bonding social capital (exclusive, inward-looking social networks). In addition Putnam explored changes in social capital over the 20th century, demonstrating that social capital increased between 1900 and the 1960s, then decreased dramatically as a result of pressures of time and money, mobility and sprawl, television, and generational differences.

Following from Robert Putnam's work, this exercise explores time and generational trends in measures of social capital from 1972 to 2004. Crosstabulation and comparison of means are used.

Analysis Type(s):
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
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