Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Social Capital

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Social Capital

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Yaojun Li

Social capital is fundamentally concerned with resources in social relations. This Handbook brings together leading scholars from around the world to address important questions on the determinants, manifestations and consequences of social capital. Combining cutting-edge theory and appropriate data and methods, it presents a challenge to both social capital researchers interested in explaining social inequality and to policy-makers with responsibility for designing effective measures for enhancing social cohesion.

Chapter 5: Social connectedness and generalized trust: a longitudinal perspective

Patrick Sturgis, Roger Patulny, Nick Allum and Franz Buscha

Subjects: business and management, research methods in business and management, development studies, development studies, research methods in development, politics and public policy, research methods in politics and public policy, research methods, research methods in business and management, research methods in development, research methods in economics, research methods in politics and public policy, research methods in social policy, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Social, or ‘generalized’ trust relates to beliefs held by individuals in a given society about the moral orientation and incentive structure of a diffuse, unknown ‘other’ (Delhey and Newton, 2005). This type of ‘thin’ or ‘horizontal’ trust must be differentiated from the instrumental, ‘strategic’ trust we invest in family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and institutions that are known to us (Hardin, 1999; Putnam, 2000; Uslaner, 2002). While strategic trust is developed over time through direct personal experience, social trust is more akin to a core value or belief; an abstract evaluation of the moral standards of the society in which we live (Delhey and Newton, 2003). To the extent that individuals within a society are inclined to make positive evaluations of the trustworthiness of their fellow citizens, various normatively benign consequences may be expected to follow at both the individual and societal levels. This is because social trust is postulated to facilitate cooperative behaviour in the absence of information about the trustworthiness of the ‘other’. This type of diffuse trust, it is argued, reduces social and economic transaction costs by lowering the need for contracts, legal and regulatory frameworks, and other forms of coercive authority (Hardin, 1999; Luhmann, 1979). It has been posited as the key mechanism through which disconnected individuals with divergent preferences can overcome collective action problems (Arrow, 1974; Fukayama, 1995; Parsons, 1937).

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