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 and Adcock and Collier’s work on concept formation and measurement validity as the starting point, the paper first discusses necessary conditions for concepts to be good in a strict sense. 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 micro and macro level. A final section therefore discusses the results and their implications for the evaluation of the concept and future research within its paradigm.
Main Research Area:
The Social Differentiation of Trust and Social Capital, 2009