Social capital (Sociology) -- Florida, Young Men's Christian associations -- Florida


This research provides insights into three aspects of social capital: the factors that influence its variability; its two-dimensional nature; and the relationship between social capital and membership in a YMCA. These insights have implications for social capital theory, for public policy, for organizational management and for individual well-being. Most social capital research treats the construct as a causal variable and analyzes the implications of different levels of social capital for certain aspects of individual and community well-being. This treatment implies that levels of social capital vary. Little research has been done to analyze the factors that cause social capital variability and therefore the understanding of social capital variability lacks insight. Before social capital variability can be explored, an intermediate issue must be addressed. Social capital is usually conceived of as a single-dimension construct. In fact social capital has two dimensions: the attitudes of social capital and the behaviors of social capital. Unidimensionality is sufficient when social capital is used exogenously but it is insufficiently nuanced when used for the purpose of recommending policies to increase it. This research analyzes the two-dimensional nature of social capital. Finally, a number of social capital behaviors have been studied but membership in the YMCA is not one of them. This research examines the relationship, ceteris paribus, between membership in the Central Florida YMCA and individual social capital. A survey questionnaire was mailed to 10,000 YMCA members in Central Florida and 21,000 residents who were demographically similar. There were 1,881 completed responses. The results were analyzed using structural equation modeling and were guided by social capital theory and the theory of reasoned action. iv The results of the study indicate that the two most influential factors of social capital variability are personal educational attainment and the average educational attainment of the community. The study also confirms that social capital is a two-dimensional construct and the two dimensions are iterative. The study results also revealed that members of the Central Florida YMCA had higher levels of social capital ceteris paribus. This study is significant in four areas: social capital theory, public policy, management of social capital-generating organizations and for individuals. At the theoretical level, insight has been gained into both the causes of social capital variability and the two-dimensional nature of social capital. Regarding public policy, this research provides clear evidence that education provides a greater role in building a community than simply creating human capital; it also creates social capital. Both educational institutions and those organizations that create social capital should be supported. Furthermore, social capital promulgation through public policy should target both dimensions of social capital to be most effective. For managers of social capital-generating organizations social capital can be used as a metric for measuring organizational effectiveness and community impact. For individuals, there is now an evidencebased approach for developing a life plan for creating personal social capital. This research is unique because it simultaneously brings insights into four distinct spheres of social capital.


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Graduation Date





Wan, Thomas T. H.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

December 2011

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic