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High Political Participation, High Social Capital? A relational analysis of youth social capital and political participation

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Publication details

JournalSocial Science Research
DateE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2012
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2012
Issue number5
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)1213-1226
Early online date12/03/12
Original languageEnglish


Social capital has been alleged to increase the capacity for political mobilization. Yet, until now, the empirical debate has not succeeded in rendering a detailed account of the relationships between social capital and political participation partly because of the use of a reductive conception and operationalization of both concepts. Using a multidimensional and relational technique (multiple correspondence analysis) and a detailed youth survey data from Belgium, the article demonstrates that youth draw on diverse forms of social capital and that these forms vary along socio-economic status and ethnic origin. Six classes based on the forms of social capital were identified. Two of them – the ‘Committed’ and ‘Religious’ are highly political active. The ‘Committed’ Class, based on a diversified social capital, consists mainly of non-immigrant youth with a high socio-economic background undertaking a large diversity of political activities. The ‘Religious’ Class, based on a narrow social capital built around religious activities, is mostly composed of ethnic minority youth with a low SES involved in more specific political activities.

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