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Social capital across Europe - findings, trends and methodological shortcomings of cross-national surveys

[working paper]

Adam, Frane

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Corporate Editor Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH
Abstract "Two sets of issues are elaborated and reflected on. The first one concerns the distribution of stocks of social capital across European (EU) nations. Using the conventional proxies like trust and associational involvement on the basis of data of cross-national surveys (EVS/WVS and ESS) the main tentative trends and patterns are outlined. The second issue refers to the quality of data. Are the findings and indicators reliable and credible? Are the EVS and other available European surveys a methodologically correct and sufficient source of empirical evidence? Concerning the first issue, it is possible to speak of four groups with regard to the distribution of social capital at the European level. In contrast to authors who argue that there are no large differences in mean scores across the national patterns, this analysis arrives at more differentiated conclusions. Between the first and fourth group a very clear borderline can be drawn while differences between the second and third groups are not so pronounced. In the context of the thematising and critical reflection of the validity and comparability of the empirical evidence some errors and inconsistencies were found. It seems that they appeared partly due to the inappropriate technical design of cross-national surveys and also because of the semantic-cultural as well as institutional factors which have not been paid much attention, partly in the stage of preparing and conducting the survey as well as in the phase of interpreting and generalizing of the data." (author's abstract)
Keywords social capital; EU; international comparison; data; quality; data capture; method; survey; interpretation; reliability; validity
Classification Methods and Techniques of Data Collection and Data Analysis, Statistical Methods, Computer Methods; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method basic research; development of methods
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
City Berlin
Page/Pages 29 p.
Series Discussion Papers / Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, 2006-010
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne