Chapter 4: Social capital in European regions
The previous chapters have explored the theoretical debate on the definition of social capital (Chapter 1), the main methodologies used for the measurement (Chapter 2) and the reasons for investigating the main determinants of social capital by a comparative regional analysis (Chapter 3). This chapter introduces the second part of the book: the investigation of the socio-economic determinants of social capital, illustrating the variation of social capital scores across 85 regions. Unlike Chapter 3, social capital is measured at the aggregate rather than the individual level, in order to connect the regional scores to the macrosocial predictors, that is, income inequality, economic development, labour market participation, national divergence and density. We bridge the gap between the use of individual data, the aggregate measurement and the historical analysis by referring to the conceptual frameworks elaborated by social network theorists before the appearance of the social capital concept. More specifically, on the one hand, the aggregate measurement of social capital and the investigation of its macro-social determinants are inspired by the American school’s tradition (Chapters 4, 5 and 6), which focused on quantitative methods and pursued a synchronic perspective adhering to a structuralist paradigm. On the other, the in-depth historicinstitutional analysis is inspired by the Manchester school (Chapters 7 and 8), which moved from a diachronic perspective, rejected structuralism and interpreted social change as a process rooted in history.
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