Acta Politica

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 422–441

The Roots of Social Capital: Attitudinal and Network Mechanisms in the Relation between Youth and Adult Indicators of Social Capital

  • Dietlind Stolle
  • Marc Hooghe
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500081

Cite this article as:
Stolle, D. & Hooghe, M. Acta Polit (2004) 39: 422. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500081


One of the basic assumptions of social capital theory is that social interactions, whether in formal or informal settings, lead to socialization into pro-social value patterns such as generalized trust or reciprocity. This assumption has thus far been tested exclusively with adult populations. As a result, social capital studies tend to ignore a large body of political socialization research indicating that a number of crucial political behaviors and attitudes are already shaped at an early age, and that they continue to be rather stable during the life cycle. In this article, we use the Youth–Parent Socialization panel study (1965–1982) to demonstrate that with regard to generalized trust and participation, distinctive patterns are already in place during adolescence and continue into adulthood. Structural equation modeling produced support both for the attitudinal as for the network mechanism, although the stability with regard to trust was higher than with regard to participation. Our analysis suggests that social capital studies should, in the future, pay more attention to youth research than they have to date.


social capitalsocializationgeneralized trustparticipationnetwork mechanism
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietlind Stolle
    • 1
  • Marc Hooghe
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political Science, McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium