Social Capital in Europe
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Social Capital in Europe

A Comparative Regional Analysis

Emanuele Ferragina

The book investigates the determinants of social capital across 85 European regions capturing the renewed interest among social capital theorists for the importance of active secondary groups in supporting the correct functioning of society and its democratic institutions. Robert Putnam merged quantitative and historical analyses, suggesting that the lack of social capital in the south of Italy was mainly due to a peculiar historical development rather than being the product of a mix of structural socio-economic factors, a conclusion that has been the subject of fierce criticism and debate.
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Chapter 4: Social capital in European regions

Emanuele Ferragina


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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