Organized Activities As Social Closure: Effects of Social Capital on Educational Outcomes Among Swedish Youth with Migrant Background

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Olav NYGARD, Linköping University, Sweden
Alireza BEHTOUI, Södertörn University, Sweden
Anders NEERGAARD, Linköping University, Sweden
Research has found a consistent link between access to social capital and educational outcomes. Since it is not purely a private good, social capital has been suggested as having a leveling potential between students with and without migrant background. The empirical evidence for this has often rested on the assumption that access provides similar outcomes for migrants as for non-migrants. However, since social capital can be mobilized both in gaining and maintaining advantage, there are reasons to question this assumption. Swedish schools and residential areas are segregated. Consequently, people in formally similar situations can face substantially different outlooks. In this study, we address whether youth with migrant background benefit from their access to social capital in the same way as non-migrants do. To do this, we ask three questions: 1) Are the effects of social background on educational outcomes similar for migrant and non-migrant students in Sweden, 2) Are the effects of participating in organized activities on educational outcomes similar for migrants and non-migrants; and 3) Do these effects vary between migrants from different regions, and if so, how? To get sufficient statistical power, we pool observations from three studies on social capital and educational attainment, resulting in data on 4266 persons, whereof 1190 with migrant background. The results show that while students with migrant background benefited from their access to family social capital, the effect was smaller. Furthermore, while the educational outcomes of non-migrant also benefited from their participation in organized out-of-school activities, migrants did not. The differences were even more pronounced for migrants from Africa, Asia and South America than for migrants from other parts of the world. This indicates that the effects of social capital, as conventionally measured, vary with racialized hierarchies, highlighting the need to factor in social closure in the conceptualization of social capital.