Measuring Mohr Social Capital

Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts


We here bring together two different traditions of thinking about social capital. One, the Tocquevillian, looks to associations and group memberships as the core of social capital. The other, the Colemanian, looks to interpersonal networks as the core of social capital. We argue that the most common way of articulating how humans use these types of relationships in different ways—the distinction between “bridging” and “bonding” social capital—is epistemically unstable. What might be possible, however, is to use the insights developed by Ronald Burt regarding tie non-redundancy to study associational social capital. We do this by drawing on the insights of the approach consistently adopted and developed by John Mohr, which emphasizes duality and diversity, to develop measures of group affiliation-based social capital. We accordingly, for both Tocquevillian and Colemanian social capital, distinguish measures that focus on the mass of social capital from those that focus on its diversity. To illustrate, we assess the degree of social capital of all resulting types for 77 Million U.S. Facebook users who are active in Facebook Groups, showing that our understanding of who has the most social capital varies greatly by whether we are considering Tocquevillian or Colemanian capital, and whether we are focusing on mass or diversity.

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