Studying Social Capital in the New Communitarian Horizon: A Multi-Method Research Strategy

Studying Social Capital in the New Communitarian Horizon: A Multi-Method Research Strategy

José Luis López Aguirre (Universidad Panamericana, México)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch044


Characterized by the virtualization vs. materialization of the social interaction spaces, current communitarian scenarios set a series of doubts about how new technologies are transforming the ability of humans to associate with others over space and time. This uncertain atmosphere takes our methodological approaches for studying virtual communities to the study of the communitarian environment through the analysis of essential attributes that determine the existence of a community: social capital. This chapter presents a multi-method research strategy that allows the study of the social capital in these hybrid communities, in which the only stable element to perform the analysis is the person, understood as the central node where different social groups converge in physical and virtual interaction nets and where ultimately communitarian feelings are cherished.
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Trust And Common Good, Essential Components Of The Social Capital

Out of three collective goods to study the interaction of human groups: social capital, knowledge capital and communion (Rheingold, 1996, pp. 29-30), we have chosen social capital to study the phenomenon of communitarian physical-virtual convergence that shapes the current communitary landscape. For Howard Rheingold (1996), the search for collective goods of a group is a way to look for elements that link the isolated individuals in a community. In this sense, we consider that social capital is the collective good that, in first place, determines the existence of the community whether physical or virtual and that it will allow us to establish a relationship between its nature (trust) and its purpose (common good).

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