Social Capital: Social Homeownership In The United States

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Social capital is a concept in which certain features of social structures (norms, networks, and social trust) within a society facilitate certain actions of people that contribute to the achievement of their interests (Coleman, 1988). The sociologist Robert Putnam argues that the “erosions of social capital” in America are contributing to social isolation, a lack of social connectedness (one’s ability to connect to other individuals for beneficial resources) and civic engagement (one’s ability to be involved in issues that affect a community). However, Rankin and Quane’s finding of high levels of engagement among individuals in poorer neighborhoods show the limits of previous research, such as Putnam’s on social isolation. Putnam’s research …show more content…

However, many of his explanations do not exhibit the social factors necessary to determine social capital within a community. For example when discussing the “re-potting” hypothesis Putnam (1995) states:
Numerous studies of organizational involvement have shown residential stability and …homeownership are clearly associated with greater civic engagement. Mobility…, tends to disrupt root systems…but...homeownership in America…are higher now than during the 1950’s, when civic engagement and social connectedness by our measures was definitely higher (p.13).
Putnam’s explanation of this “sudden decrease” of social connectedness fails to look towards a true explanation for a specific community much less America due to the over generalizability Putnam places in his social factors showing the extreme limits of Putnam’s’ own sociological research, which Rankin and Quane exploit by looking towards social factors that affect social connectedness and civic engagement in impoverished …show more content…

(2000) finding of high levels of engagement among individuals in poorer neighborhoods show the limits of previous research, such as Putnam’s on social isolation, by improving on the generalizability of social factors such as socioeconomic status, social class, and the length of residence in a community to develop a specific explanation (perceived threat in a community) that effected their target populations’ (impoverished communities) social connectedness and civic engagement. Rankin and Quane’s social factors provide a basis for other researchers to use these social factors (socioeconomic status, social class, and the length of residence in a community) to help develop a specific explanation for their target population, rather than generalizing social factors that may not apparent to a broader grouping communities as Putnam did, when he assumed that the decrease of traditional civic organizations affected the social capital of all

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