The appeal of social capital: analyzing the conceptualization of the concept

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Bilkent University
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This thesis aims to make an analysis of conceptualization and operationalization of the concept of ‘social capital’ in the social sciences. Therefore, this thesis looks for answers to the questions such as why the scientific community focused on the conceptualization and operationalization of this concept more frequently compared to several other concepts which could have gained popularity in social science literature, and how and why the number of references to the concept of social capital started to increase dramatically in literature during the 1990s and 2000s. For answering the two main questions of this thesis, the most cited academic studies according to Google Scholar were examined in detail to comprehend the main framework used by wellknown scholars to conceptualize and operationalize the concept of social capital. This thesis identified that the scientific community focused on the conceptualization and operationalization of the concept of social capital due to the explanatory power of the concept as opposed to concepts such as financial capital, physical capital and human capital for the transformation in and complexity of industrial societies. It does so by also examining the types of and questions around measurement while using the concept. Other concepts were considered as less comprehensive for explaining the transformation processes especially in economic development, employment, poverty alleviation and democracy at the micro and macro levels in the modern world. Furthermore, by operationalizing social capital as the independent variable, scholars were also able to capture the post-1990 transformations in the advanced industrialized world better, especially when holding other variables constant. Thus, both its explanatory power and the shortcomings of the other concepts in capturing the transformation led to its appeal.

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Conceptualization, Cooperation, Social Capital, Social Network, Trust
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