In Social Capital We Trust?

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Joonmo SON, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Qiushi FENG, National University of Singapore, Singapore
It has been generally assumed in the literature that social capital is positively related to or is the same as trust with a dearth of empirical verification. The present study suggests three theoretical perspectives on how social capital may be related to network and generalized trust: the compositional element (Putnam), functional equivalence (Fukuyama), and mutual independence (Lin). For the first two perspectives, we employed organizational social capital (number of memberships in voluntary organizations) and network closure as their measures of social capital while for the third, individual social capital (resources embedded in interpersonal network). Using nationally representative data sets from the United States and China, we developed a comparative research design by which a series of hypotheses were tested. The first two perspectives produced inconsistent patterns of associations between social capital and trust cross-nationally whereas the third indicated that social capital is decoupled with trust in both countries. These findings challenge the long-held assumption of the positive association or identification between social capital and trust in the literature.