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JECH Online First, published on January 22, 2016 as 10.

1136/jech-2015-207100
PostScript

LETTER

Linking social capital, a


forgotten component of social
capital
I read with interest the study from Dr
Takashi Oshio, where he attempted to
address how the association between
individual-level social capital and health is
confounded by an individuals unobserved
time-invariant attributes.1 By reading the
methods described by the author, one can
nd that he operationalised social capital
only as two components: bonding and
bridging social capital, but he did not
mention the third component of social
capital: linking social capital. Not measuring this component could confuse results.
First of all, what is social capital? It
comprehends the expected benets
derived from the cooperation between
individuals and groups. Thus, when dening social capital, a proxy may come to
mind: social network, which is the
network of individuals, groups, organisations, institutions and social resources, to
which individuals and groups are connected to or isolated from.2 3
Social capital is not a product derived
from research in the medical eld.
Sociologists, economists and political
scientists
have
made
important

contributions to the theoretical framework and, in my opinion, the most


important contributor is Bourdieu.4 He
postulates that social capital reproduces
inequality in a particular way by allowing
some people to mobilise capital for their
own benet taking out of the picture vulnerable populations. He denes social
capital as: The aggregate of the actual or
potential resources that are linked to possession of a durable network of more or
less institutionalised relationships of
mutual acquaintance or recognition. This
is a philosophical concept and constitutes
a soft variable to be measured in epidemiology. Then, in order to develop a measurable hard variable that provides us with
a framework of social capital in research,
the concept is often deconstructed into
bonding,
bridging
and
linking
components.5
Thus, bonding social capital refers to
close relationships between family
members or good friends, measured by
indicators such as social support. Bridging
social capital refers to relationships
between people who are more loosely
connected and have distinct social identities, such as neighbours or colleagues.
Linking social capital is used to describe
relationships that are characterised by
power differences. Based on this denition, a question emerges to pose to the
author: How did you measure and

introduce the effect of linking social


capital into your model? I think the lack
of this component could confuse results.
Ramiro Manzano Nunez
Correspondence to Dr Ramiro Manzano Nunez,
Universidad del Valle, Calle 14A oeste #55175,
Cali 760001, Valle del Cacua, Colombia;
ramiro.manzano@correounivalle.edu.co
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned;
internally peer reviewed.
To cite Manzano Nunez R. J Epidemiol Community
Health Published Online First: [ please include Day
Month Year] doi:10.1136/jech-2015-207100
Received 16 December 2015
Revised 6 January 2016
Accepted 7 January 2016
J Epidemiol Community Health 2016;0:1.
doi:10.1136/jech-2015-207100

REFERENCES
1

2
3

4
5

Oshio T. The association between individual-level


social capital and health: cross-sectional, prospective
cohort and xed-effects models. J Epidemiol
Community Health 2016;70:2530.
Porta M, ed. A dictionary of epidemiology. 6th edn.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Social CapitalMeSHNCBI. (cited 6 January 2016).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/?term=social
+capital
Bourdieu P. The forms of capital. Handb Theory Res
Sociol Educ 1986;241:24158.
Harpham T, Grant E, Thomas E. Measuring social
capital within health surveys: key issues. Health Policy
Plan 2002;17:10611.

J Epidemiol Community Health Month 2016 Vol 0 No 0

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