Bridging versus Bonding Social Capital: How the Type of Social Capital Produced in a Community Influences the Content of Civic Engagement
The positive value of civic engagement has been called into question in recent research. The concern is that when people choose to involve themselves with the community; they tend to join associations of similar, like minded individuals. Even when someone is not bowling alone, they are simply bowling with reflections of themselves. We challenge these findings and offer a ray of hope. First, we focus on the effect of social capital on what is actually produced rather than just participation. In doing so, we utilize local communities’ passage of anti-Patriot Act resolutions as a test of our hypotheses: (1) Communities with larger numbers of bridging associations will produce more comprehensive higher quality documents than those with fewer and (2) that the opposite will hold true for communities with larger numbers of bonding associations. We find strong support for the positive effect of bridging organizations and negative effect of bonding organizations.