Measuring Social Capital in Five Communities
AbstractThis article develops an empirically grounded definition of social capital. Drawing on the work of Coleman and Putnam and others, the article discusses social capital in terms of participation in networks, reciprocity, trust, social norms, the commons, and social agency. Potential items to measure these elements were developed in an empirical study. A questionnaire containing 68 potential items was administered to approximately 1,200 adults in five Australian communities: two rural communities, two outer metropolitan areas, and one inner-city area of Sydney. The responses were subjected to extensive statistical analysis involving a hierarchical factor analysis, which identified a single general underlying factor and eight orthogonal specific factors, accounting for 49% of the variance. Three of the specific factors identified were community participation, agency, and trust. The five communities differed significantly in terms of the general and specific factors.