English title: The Relationship Between Social Capital and Individualism–Collectivism in Europe
Author(s): Mai Beilmann - Liisi Kööts-Ausmees - Anu Realo -
Type: Journal article
The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between social capital and individualism–collectivism in a sample of 50,417 individuals from 29 European countries using data from the European Social Survey Round 6 (2012). Social capital was measured in terms of generalized social trust and informal social networks; individualism–collectivism was operationalized via Schwartz’s Openness to Change–Conservation value dimension. Results from a hierarchical linear modeling analysis showed that less than 10% of variance in social capital indicators was found between countries, meaning that the level of social capital varies more substantively between individuals than between the countries. Openness to Change had a weak but statistically significant and positive relationship both with the indices of Generalized Social Trust and Informal Social Networks, which remained significant even when individual age, gender, education level, and domicile were controlled for. In sum, our findings show that the positive relationship between social capital and individualism that has been found at the cultural level also holds at the individual level: people who emphasize independent thought, action, and readiness to change are also more willing to believe that most people can be trusted and are more engaged in informal social networks. The relationship is, nevertheless, very weak and the strength of the association varies significantly across different European countries. This variation, however, cannot be explained by country differences in level of democracy or human development and the country’s wealth moderates only the individual level relationship between Openness to Change and Informal Social Networks. Our findings suggest that sources of social capital at the individual level can be found in people’s immediate social surroundings, as well as their everyday social interactions.
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Journal: Social Indicators Research