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Social Capital and Work Activity: Autonomy, Supervision, and Creativity in Interpersonal Networks

Networks, Work and Inequality

ISBN: 978-1-78190-539-5, eISBN: 978-1-78190-540-1

Publication date: 8 April 2013


Purpose – This study assesses the extent to which four features of work – supervision, autonomy, creativity, and skill – are associated with different structural forms of social capital. Social capital may enhance actors’ access to diverse information and resources or it may foster mutual commitment and trust. Actors’ draw on these social connections, and the resources embedded therein, when they engage in work activities. The study considers how dense and diverse network structures serve complementary functions to actors engaged in creative and autonomous jobs or for reproducing inequality within firms.Methodology – The analysis uses nationally representative survey data and the position-generator approach to social capital measurement to determine the relationship between three social capital constructs – diversity, hierarchy, and density – and respondents’ work characteristics.Findings – Supervisory, autonomous, creative, and highly skilled workers all have more diverse social networks. Supervisors and skilled workers also have access to high-status contacts. Finally, creative and autonomous workers have more dense social networks.Originality/value – Findings suggest that density and diversity are useful to actors engaged in self-directed or creative work tasks. These findings support theories of complementary network structures that combine access to unique information with the collective ability to pursue goals.



Benton, R.A. (2013), "Social Capital and Work Activity: Autonomy, Supervision, and Creativity in Interpersonal Networks", Mcdonald, S. (Ed.) Networks, Work and Inequality (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 269-293.



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