Bridging or Bonding: An Organizational Framework for Studying Social Capital in Kindergartens
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). 2021, 18 (5), 1-24. 10.3390/ijerph18052663
The article develops our understanding of social capital by analyzing social capital as an organizational phenomenon. The analysis is based on qualitative data consisting of interviews and documents obtained from six different kindergartens in Norway. Kindergartens are used as a “prism” through which we can understand how social capital is formed—and the mechanisms that shape the development of various forms of networks within welfare organizations. More specifically we look at drop-in kindergartens. The specific purpose of these kindergartens is to provide open and inclusive arenas that promote integration and community. We find that the kindergartens vary in the degree to which they succeed in building bridging forms of networks and communities. Using concepts from organizational theory and Wenger’s (1998) theory of communities of practice, we find that formal organizational factors such as ownership, organizational goals, profiling, location, and educational content impact the formation of bridging forms of social capital. The composition of the user groups and the user groups’ motivation for participating most clearly affect the conditions for community formation. The composition of the user groups is the result of a number of organizational factors and organizational mechanisms. Kindergartens that have a heterogeneous user group, and a user group with a community orientation (Morse 2006), are more successful at creating bridging types of social networks.