Social Support As Social Capital. Social Isolation As Lack of Support. a Generator Instrument for Measuring Social Capital.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 12 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Gerhard PAULINGER, University of Vienna, Austria
Measuring complex concepts as Social Isolation, Social Support or Social Capital (SC) in a survey is a sophisticated task, due to a broad variety of definitions and operationalizations. Different kinds of generator instruments highlight and measure different properties of an individual social network: e.g. the size of a social network, the different kinds of contacts, the ressources and abilities of these contacts. To conclude from these measures to an amount of SC or a grade of Social Isolation is not a trivial task. The idea is to combine the ideas of SC and Social Support to solve this problem to some extent. We define SC as subjectively perceived potential support from social networks and Social Isolation as the absence or low supply. SC is an individual asset, as useful resources accessible through social networks that help to achieve goals which would not be achievable otherwise. The individual perception and potential value of the available SC depends on (1) the availability of network contacts, (2) the ressources and capabilities of these network contacts, (3) the willingness of these network contacts to make their ressources available and further (4) the matching of the resources with the situation and the goal to be achieved, suggesting the modularity and adaptability of the instrument. Further we distinguish between informal and formal SC, arising from interpersonal networks or respectively from formal organizations (state, associations, church, etc.). An instrument following this derivation was developed and tested as a pilot in the Austrian 4th wave of the European Social Survey (ESS). The validity of the measures and the considerable effect of this measure on subjective quality of life were analyzed in multiple regression models. The single support dimensions were explained in regression models. The aim of the paper is to discuss the instrument, its results and implications.