Social Capital
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Social Capital

Reaching Out, Reaching In

Edited by Viva Ona Bartkus and James H. Davis

This book showcases new innovative research in economics, politics, sociology, and management regarding the topic. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines present ground-breaking new research exploring the still-undiscovered value of social capital. The book employs a self-consciously multi-disciplinary approach to address two objectives: reaching out and reaching in. Through theoretical and empirical scholarship, the authors explore the many contexts in which the phenomenon can have impact. In effect, social capital research reaches out to issues of economic well-being, civic participation, educational achievement, knowledge and norm formation, and competitive advantage. Further, the authors investigate the many connections between the core themes of social capital and the pillars on which it rests, including structural networks, cognition, relationships and trust. This book is fundamentally about bridging – bridging across disciplines, units of analysis, and themes.
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Chapter 7: Experimental Approaches to the Diffusion of Norms

David W. Nickerson

Extract

7. Experimental approaches to the diffusion of norms David W. Nickerson Many theories of social capital contend that dense ties within networks develop norms that govern the behavior of group members. Dense networks also establish surveillance and sanctioning systems for violations of those norms. Compliance with those norms provides the basis for trust in the community as behavior becomes more predictable. Coleman (1988), Burt (2005) and many other scholars argue that networks with closure are sources of social capital precisely because densely connected groups transmit and reinforce group norms. Thus, social networks are perceived as critical in the diffusion and reinforcement of important civic and other norms. Unfortunately, selection into social networks makes it extremely difficult to isolate the unique role played by the network in the formation of norms. Specifically, how does one disentangle the influence of the network over time from that of the traits that influenced the person to join the network in the first place? Randomized field experiments offer a method for measuring the role of these two processes. Researchers can pursue three different experimental strategies to measure norm creation in the field: create a randomized social network; randomly manipulate interactions within an existing network; or trace the effect of an exogenous shock through the network. This chapter briefly explains the logic motivating experiments and provides an example of each type of experiment to study norm formation within social networks.1 Friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors...

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