Is Social Capital a Good Concept?
Midwest Political Science Association 67th Annual National Conference, Chicago, April 22-25, 2010
35 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 21, 2010
The aim of this paper is to explore whether the concept of social capital as popularized by Robert Putnam is a good social science concept. Taken Gerring’s work on concept evaluation as the starting point, the paper first presents a set of criteria for conceptual ‘goodness’ and discusses how social capital perform on these criteria. Afterwards, an empirical section explores the validity of the unidimensionality assumption of most definitions of social capital. This assumption is rejected in four separate tests at both the individual and aggregate level. A final section therefore discusses the results and their implications for the evaluation of the concept and future research within its paradigm.
Keywords: Social Capital, Principal Components Analysis, Concept Formation
JEL Classification: Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation