3. How can we measure and understand social capital?
Given its value as an end in itself and the contribution to a range of outcomes, this report seeks to understand more about the nature of social capital in Scotland and how it is changing. It focuses on the following questions:
- How strong is social capital in Scotland and how is it changing over time?
- How is social capital distributed across social groups and geographies, and what groups and places have lower levels?
- How are the elements of social capital felt and experienced by people in the places they live and spend their time?
A multi-dimensional approach for understanding social capital
To answer these questions, the report uses three approaches to consider the levels, distribution and nature of social capital in Scotland:
Data dashboard – Survey variables in the Scottish Household Survey, provide a way of tracking changes in measures of social capital over time and under each of the four social capital themes.
Disaggregation – Levels of social capital vary across different places and social groups. Survey data has been broken down further, to understand what levels are like for people of different ages, gender, ethnicity, housing, health conditions, and areas of higher deprivation.
Stories – Because statistics can only provide a limited account of the quality of social connections, this report also includes case study stories from people and places, to illustrate how social capital can feel in different places and spaces. This highlights the interdependence and context-specific nature of social capital as it is woven through day-to-day life and experiences.