Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Social Capital
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Social Capital

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.
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Chapter 3: The flow of soul: a sociological study of generosity in England and Wales (2001–2011)

Yaojun Li


The free and bounteous giving of one’s time, effort and treasures for good causes and for the benefit of others is an important indicator of civic health in our national life. The time and effort devoted to civic activities, the time and care given to the weak, feeble and others in need beyond one’s kin, and the money donated to charitable causes are all manifestations of generosity in society. How are the three domains of generosity related to one another in their patterns and trends in British society? Which socio-demographic factors are most strongly associated with pro-social behaviours? Did the economic recession that started in 2008 have any notable effect on formal and informal social involvement and altruistic behaviour? And to what extent is the pattern of charitable giving in Britain similar to or different from that in the US? In this analysis, we try to address these questions by analysing the three domains of generosity in England and Wales and exploring their socioeconomic-cultural determinants. Using the Home Office Citizenship Survey (HOCS) covering a period of ten years (2001–11), we find generally high, albeit somewhat falling, rates in volunteering, helping and giving, but the amounts of money given to charitable causes remained at a fairly similar level in spite of the economic crisis that started in 2008. We also find strong class and income effects in the three domains, but ethno-religious effects are weak.

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