Conceptualization of social capital in cross-sectional design studies: rapid review of literature

Sanita Šuriņa (Coresponding Author), Kristīne Mārtinsone

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Social capital is a conceptthat is widely studied in different fields of science, in different dimensions of this concept, and consists of a number of elements, including trust,sense of belongingand affiliation.Given the multidimensional nature of social capital, researchers point to the challenges of its conceptualization and operationalization of its elements. Objective: To identify cross-sectional design studies, with nationally representative samples from European countries, where each study assessed following social capital elements: either trust and sense of belonging, or trust and affiliation,to identify other included social capital elements, to clarify how these elements are operationalized, to identify what social capital determinants are taken into account and what social capital manifestations have been evaluated.Method: Cross-sectional design studies, with nationally representative samples for European countries, conducted between 2014 and 2019, were sought in Science Direct, ProQuest, SAGE, EBSCO, Google Scholar, using the key words “social capital”, “trust”, “sense of belonging” and their synonyms. The methodological quality was assessed by Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies (Axis). Results: From initially identified 173 studies, the literature review included 3 studies. The included studies identify determinants ofsocial capital(socio-demographic factors (2 studies) and political affiliation (1 study))andmanifestationsof social capital (self-rated health (1 study), loneliness (1 study), willingness to pay for environmental quality (1 study)).The included studies define the bonding, bridging and linking types of social capital, as well as the structural and cognitivedimensionsof social capital. The studies assessed and operationalized the following social capital elements: trust (3 studies), sense of belonging (1 study), support (1 study), frequency of contacts (2 studies), participation in associations (1 study), religiousaffiliation (1 study), civic activity (2 studies)


  • affiliation
  • Social Capital
  • sense of belonging
  • trust

Field of Science*

  • 5.1 Psychology

Publication Type*

  • 3.1. Articles or chapters in proceedings/scientific books indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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