Dissertation Abstracts

Dimensions of Social Capital among University Students in Croatia

Author: Gvozdanovic, Anja , aanja.g@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Zagreb, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Croatia
Supervisor: Dr. Jasminka Laznjak, PhD
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Croatian

Keywords: social capital , university students , civic participation , trust
Areas of Research: Youth , Political Sociology


The thesis examines the level, distribution and correlation of social capital dimensions among Croatian university students. Studies that have emerged over the last decade about social capital among youth are usually based on the theoretical approaches of James Coleman and Pierre Bourdieu. Their focus was on parents’ social capital and how it was merely used, rather than created by, youth. This study regards youth as a social resource that encapsulates the potential to contribute to society’s social capital and thus applies Robert Putnam's theoretical approach to social capital. Social capital is a socio-cultural characteristic of a group or individual that consists of civic participation, civility, and generalized trust, which can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating spontaneous cooperation. Social capital consists of structural (civic participation) and cultural dimensions (trust and civility), whose main terms and concepts are analyzed in the theoretical part of the thesis. Putnam's approach is based on the hypothesis that the structural aspect enables the development of generalized trust and civic norms and the latter encourage the continuation of existing cooperation. The empirical part of the thesis is based on a quantitative study conducted in 2010. The sample size consists of two thousand full-time students from all seven public universities in Croatia. The research results show prevalence of civility, relatively widespread structural dimension social capital, and very low generalized trust among students. The significance of correlations among the dimensions is limited. There is a weak but significant correlation between the structural dimension and generalized trust while civility is significantly associated with bonding elements of social capital. Political trust is significantly and positively correlated with structural social capital and generalized trust. The estimation of the social importance of opportunism for social mobility is negatively related to personal civility. Although sociodemographic variables tend to be weakly associated with the main dimensions of social capital, the type of high school from which a student has graduated, is significantly correlated to their civility and structural social capital, which, for the purpose of generating social capital, indicates the importance of the type of formalized high-school socialization.