University of Maryland

Social Capital in India:
Networks, Organizations, and Confidence

Reeve Vanneman, James Noon, and Sonalde Desai
University of Maryland


Using original data from a newly collected nationally representative survey for 40,000 households in India, we examine associations of various dimensions of social capital with each other and with contextual and individual determinants. We focus on three measures of social capital: a positional generator of social networks, a count of memberships in formal organizations, and a subjective index of confidence in institutions. All three scales show good internal reliabilities. Associations among the three are quite low however suggesting that, in India at least, there seems to be little generalization from one type of social capital to another. Further analysis reveals that all three scales reveal strong geographic patterning across India, but the social networks measure also shows strong relationships with social position within communities. Network contacts are more extensive for high caste, wealthy, and well-educated households. Similar household status associations are much weaker for confidence in institutions and for membership in organizations. These more formal, institutionalized dimensions of social capital depend more on the presence of institutions in the local area, while the more informal measures of social networks reflects also an individual's position within the community.

Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal, August 11-14, 2006.

Draft paper (pdf 110K).

Last updated October 1, 2006
comments to: Reeve Vanneman.