Investigating Community and Social Capital

About the Project

Investigating Community and Social Capital introduces students to quantitative social science research with a case study on social capital. Some of the concepts illustrated include replication, unit of analysis, level of measurement, analysis over time versus cross-sectional analysis, crosstabulation, creating an index, and correlation. I hope that instructors find this to be an uncomplicated and useful enhancement to courses in disciplines such as political science, public administration and policy, and sociology. My larger goal is to introduce students to the merits and rewards of quantitative social science research and to demonstrate the power of this approach.

The specific pedagogic goals of this site are:

  • To provide a nonintimidating, hands-on experience with data analysis
  • To promote the understanding of social science research concepts
  • To introduce the concept of social capital, which is important for the study of society, politics, and public policy

The exercises on this website will engage students in reading the Robert D. Putnam's book Bowling Alone, along with some additional reading about the book and social capital. Here is a complete reference list.

About the Author

Lori M. Weber is an associate professor of political science at California State University, Chico, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate political methods and public opinion courses. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2001. She has authored and coauthored publications on political participation, democratic deliberation, and electronic democracy. She is an independent film, music, food, cycling, and travel aficionado, and, of course, a social capitalist.

For questions or comments about ICSC, please contact:

Lori Weber (lweber at csuchico dot edu)

For questions about the website, please contact

If you are interested in the OR sabbatical program or are interested in becoming a member institution of ICPSR, please visit Membership in ICPSR.