Edited by Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders
Chapter 7: Trust and social capital: challenges for studying their dynamic relationship
In this chapter the dynamic nature of trust and social capital is explored. By showing how networks and social capital change over time, the challenges of measuring trust within these networks are set out. The implications for researching trust using longitudinal studies are identified. The idea that trust is an important phenomenon in social networks has been acknowledged by many researchers. It is commonly assumed that a certain degree of trust among members is necessary for a social network to emerge and be maintained. A decline of trust can easily result in erosion or rupture of a social network. Several researchers have linked the notion of trust to social capital, suggesting that resource sharing by networks’ members depends on their trust in one another. Trust has even been seen as an inherent part of social capital. In this chapter we present another view of the relation between trust and social capital. In contrast to earlier work in which trust was seen as part of social capital we consider trust as a factor in the dynamics of social networks that affects both the use of social capital and its effects. Taking a dynamic look at trust as well, we reflect on how declining and increasing trust will influence the magnitude of social capital as well as its depletion and its replenishment after having been used. Investigating this model empirically poses several challenges to researchers.
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