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Sense of belonging as an indicator of social capital

Ahn, MY; Davis, HH; (2020) Sense of belonging as an indicator of social capital. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 10.1108/IJSSP-12-2019-0258. (In press). Green open access

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Purpose: This paper examines the possibility of using sense of belonging as an indicator for social capital. Social capital, from the collective social capital theory perspective, is constructed from three main elements: trust, social network and participation. Social capital is crucial to civil society and well-being, but there is no consensus on how to define and measure it. This paper approaches this problem with the different but related concept of sense of belonging, as belonging overlaps with social capital conceptually, but also is more amenable to measurement. / Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative and quantitative data was collected from approximately 800 university students and used to explore the relationship between belonging and social capital both conceptually and empirically in the higher education context. / Findings: The mixed methods research analysis in this paper provides strong evidence to show how sense of belonging and social capital are theoretically and empirically intertwined, Conceptually they occupy overlapping spheres and their connections can be clearly traced and measured. This is supported by substantial statistical evidence of their relatedness, despite their independent origins in social research. For these reasons, this paper argues that sense of belonging can be used as a simplified alternative way to measure social capital. / Originality/value: This paper explains the advantages of using sense of belonging to understand social capital. It sets out a conceptual framework and provides a statistical demonstration. This paper develops and enriches a current strand of social capital and sense of belonging research in the fields of sociology and higher education policy.

Type: Article
Title: Sense of belonging as an indicator of social capital
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1108/IJSSP-12-2019-0258
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-12-2019-0258
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Sense of belonging, Social capital, Social network, Participation, Higher education, Mixed methods
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100834
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