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Better Understand Social Capital

This section presents the definition of social capital used in this study.

What is social capital?

Developed by several researchers over the past hundred years, the notion of social capital corresponds to the social ties between individuals in a society, as well as the social attitudes they share, such as feelings of belonging and trust.

A project that analyzes three types of social tie1


Bonding ties that bind a person to family members and friends.


Bridging ties, which links a person to a wider network, such as acquaintances and colleagues.


Linking ties, also called vertical links, which connect a person to organizations or people in positions of power, such as elected officials or organizational leaders.

These three types of connection are reflected in both our behaviors and social attitudes. For example, volunteering is a bridging behavior, while feeling a strong sense of belonging to our neighborhood is a bridging attitude.

Many factors influence social capital2

At the individual level, personality, values, age, social class, gender, origin and occupation all influence social capital.

On a local scale, many other factors play a role, such as neighborhood diversity, the activities of nearby community and leisure organizations, urban design, public spaces and means of transportation.

Finally, on a social and economic scale, other factors exert an influence, such as history and culture, government ideology and programs, the labour market and power relationships between social groups.

The aim of Intersection is not to analyze all these factors. It focuses on public spaces, places of social interaction, the activities of community organizations and the decisions of public authorities as levers of social capital.


1. Aldrich, D. P. (2012). Building resilience: Social capital in
post-disaster recovery. University of Chicago Press.

2. Halpern, D. (2005). Social capital. Polity.

Our past work on social capital

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