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 7: Diversity and social capital in the US and UK: the role of bridging friendships

David Cutts and Edward Fieldhouse


Growing austerity across Europe, widening socioeconomic inequalities in North America, and changes in the scale and origin of immigration have led to a renewed interest, among governments and citizens alike, in the consequences of racial and ethnic diversity for community and social cohesion. Numerous scholars have shown how diverse neighbourhood contexts are sometimes accompanied by lower levels of social capital: civic engagement, interpersonal trust, social connectedness and reciprocity (Alesina and La Ferrara, 2000; Clark et al., 2010; Costa and Kahn, 2003; Delhey and Newton, 2005; Fieldhouse and Cutts, 2010; Hero, 2003; Putnam, 2007). However, socio-psychological scholarly evidence on the contact hypothesis suggests that bridging contacts with diverse others can induce greater empathy with the out-group and reduce interactional anxiety (Brown and Hewstone, 2005; Hewstone et al., 2006; Islam and Hewstone, 1993; Pettigrew et al., 2007) as well as build higher levels of social capital that can transcend existing group boundaries (Stolle et al., 2008; Wagner et al., 2006). This chapter sets out to investigate the effect of contact between in/out-groups on the relationship between diversity and social capital in England and the US. It hypothesizes a mediating role for contact, whereby diversity can have a positive indirect effect on social capital via inter-group contact. Unlike most other studies, we disaggregate the mediation effects of contact on diversity on Whites (majority status) and ethnic minorities (minority status). And then we operationalize this relationship using a mediation analysis within a structural equation modelling framework.

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