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Social Indicators Research

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 803–821 | Cite as

Are Informal Connections a Functional Alternative to Associational Life in Enhancing Social Cohesion? Findings from Hong Kong

  • Elaine ChanEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article aims to ascertain whether organizational life and informal connections, which made up part of Putnam’s (Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000) Social Capital Index, have separate effects on social cohesion. Postulating that informal gatherings with family and friends might be a functional alternative to associational life, we employed multiple regression analysis to test the hypothesis. The analysis was based on a 2011 territory-wide door-to-door survey in Hong Kong. Controlling for the effects of demographic variables including gender, age, educational level, and employment status, it was found that formal participation in organizations contributed significantly to the explanation in five of the eight subindexes of social cohesion. In contrast, informal connections contributed significantly only to one subindex. The pattern persisted when attitudinal variables such as life satisfaction, social support, and perceived social class were added to the regression analysis. In short, our analysis demonstrated that participation in formal organizations fosters various aspects of social cohesion, and that this effect cannot be replaced by informal gatherings with family and friends.

Keywords

Social cohesion Social capital Informal connections Hong Kong 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding of this research came from RGC General Research Fund HKU741209H. The author would also like to thank Joseph Chan and Ian Holliday for commenting on an earlier draft of the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public Administration, Centre for Civil Society and GovernanceUniversity of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong

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