Paolo Barbieri

Il tesoro nascosto. La mappa del capitale sociale in un'area metropolitana

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In this article we will analyse a peculiar aspect of social capital, that is the amount of social resources disposable to individuals as support from kinship and relational networks. The article presents the first results of an empirical study on networks and social support in Milano, northern Italy. According to Fischer's pioneering study on networks, we divide social support in four different types. The confrontation with Fischer's work will draw our analysis, but nonetheless the article intends also to evaluate network analysis technique in itself. In particular, we wish to stress the problems that arise while adopting a mere morphological and simply ordinal view of social capital. Following Fischer, each kind of social support disposable to individuals will be reconnected to subjects that take advantages of it, so to construct a synoptic table that tries to combine empirically the advantages of the structuralist "relations-approach" with the analytical advantages of the classic "variables-approach". By examining individual ego-networks the article demonstrate that the interaction between the degree of social closure and the peculiar labour market organisation reproduces inequality in the distribution of individuals' life chances, so to penalise people with personal characteristics little appreciated on the labour market and with a very small amount of human and social capital at their disposition. The article shows, finally, how in a society which is still "closed", family and kinship nets still constitute the main factor of intermediation between individuals and the whole society.

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