Social capital, the miniaturisation of community and self-reported global and psychological health

Martin Lindström
Social Science & Medicine 2004, 59 (3): 595-607
Social capital is often operationalised as social participation in the activities of the formal and informal networks of civil society and/or as generalised trust. Social participation and trust are two aspects of social capital that mutually affect each other, according to the literature. In recent years there has been an increased attention to the fact that generalised trust decreases for every new birth cohort that reaches adulthood in the USA, while social participation may take new forms such as ideologically much narrower single-issue movements that do not enhance trust. The phenomenon has been called "the miniaturisation of community". The effects of similar patterns in Sweden on self-reported health and self-reported psychological health are analysed. The odds ratios of bad self-reported global health are highest in the low-social capital category (low-social participation/low trust), but the miniaturisation of community and low-social participation/high-trust categories also have significantly higher odds ratios than the high-social capital category (high-social participation/high trust). The odds ratios of bad self-reported psychological health are significantly higher in both the low-social capital category and the miniaturisation of community category compared to the high-social capital category, while the low-social participation/high-trust category does not differ from the high-social capital reference group.

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