Social Capital and Institutional Constraints
A Comparative Analysis of China, Taiwan and the US
By Joonmo Son
Routledge – 2013 – 174 pages
The sociological concept of social capital has grown in popularity in recent years and research programs in North America, Europe, and East Asia have demonstrated how social capital has a significant impact on occupational mobility, community building, social movement, and economic development.
This book uses new empirical data to test how social capital works in different societies with diverse political-economic and cultural institutions. Taking a comparative approach, this study focuses on data from three different societies, China, Taiwan, and the United States, in order to reveal the international commonalities and disparities in access to, and activation of, social capital in labor markets. In particular, this book tests whether political economic and cultural differences between capitalist and socialist economic systems and between Western and Confucian cultures create different types of individual social networks and usages. This comparison leads to Joonmo Son’s fundamental argument that the institutional constraints of a society’s political economy on the one hand, and culture on the other, profoundly impact on both the composition and utilization of social capital.
Based on rigorous statistical analysis, this book will be essential reading for students and scholars of social capital, economic sociology, and comparative politics.
"Son’s book is a significant addition to the growing literature on social capital, institutions, and status attainment. Its unique institutional comparative perspective greatly advances our understanding of how political economy or culture shape people’s access to and activation of social capital for status attainment in three important labour markets with varying institutional constraints. The book is well organized and well written, suitable for upper division undergraduate and graduate students. It will be a must-read for scholars on China, Taiwan, and the US as well as social scientists interested in social capital, institutions, and social inequalities." - Wenhong Chen, University of Texas at Austin; Asian Journal of Social Science 41, 2013.
"Son’s comparative study of social capital and institutional constraints is a solid contribution to our understanding of social capital and status attainment. By means of detailed analysis of nationally representative data from the three countries, Son addresses how institutions and institutional constraints such as political economy and culture moderate the effect of social capital in the status attainment process in China, Taiwan, and the United States." - Mito Akiyoshi, Senshu University; Social Forces, 2013.
1. A Comparative study of social capital 2. Accessed and activated social capital 3. Institutional constraints 4. Theoretical models and hypotheses 5. Data, methods and measures 6. Accessed social capital among the three societies 7. Social capital and status attainment 8. Social capital and institutional constraints
Joonmo Son is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore.