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Religious Involvement and Status-Bridging Social Capital

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Is religious involvement positively associated with having influential friends or is religious involvement unrelated to this kind of social capital? Building on the distinction between the “bonding” and “bridging” aspects of social capital, I distinguish two kinds of bridging social capital—identity-bridging and status-bridging—that have been a source of terminological confusion. I examine the relationship between religious involvement and status-bridging social capital by analyzing data from a large nationally representative survey of the U.S. adult population that included questions about friendships with elected public officials, corporation executives, scientists, and persons of wealth. The data show that membership in a religious congregation and holding a congregational leadership position are most consistently associated with greater likelihood of having these kinds of friendships. The data also show that frequency of religious attendance is largely unrelated to these measures of social capital and that there are some significant variations among religious traditions and size of congregation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Princeton University

Publication date: December 1, 2002


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