One major way in which social enterprises can affect local communities and groups of people is through increasing what is often referred to as ‘social capital’. In order to make the concept of ‘social capital’ more easily measurable, the social capital module of the UK General Household Survey (GHS) defined it as a combination of:
- Civic engagement
- Neighbourliness (reciprocity and trust in neighbours)
- Social networks (friends and relatives)
- Social support
- Perceptions of local area
Who might use these indicators?
Development trusts, co-operatives, social enterprises seeking to engage people in their communities and build trust and networks in communities might find it useful to measure their effects on the elements of social capital.
Measuring social capital
Due to social capital’s many different elements, you may want to focus on one of its particular aspects or you may briefly want to skim through them all. The table in this section lists some indicators that may help you to identify some key questions, which you may ask as part of a survey, or a face-to-face interview, with a sample of people in a given area, and ask people both before and after the work you’ve done. 1
Social indicators: social capital
|People feel civically-engaged/ involved in their community|
|Feels civically engaged
Not civically engaged
|Reciprocity with neighbours
Trust in neighbours
Would you say that you trust (most / many / a few / none) of the people in your neighbourhood?
|Satisfactory friend network
Satisfactory relatives network
|Low social support
High social support
|Perceptions of local area (Local area must be specified)|
|Perceptions of local area|
|Enjoyment of living in the area
Feeling safe walking around after dark
You may use the questions in the table above as guidelines to develop your own indicators of social capital that are specific to your community. Basing your investigation of social capital on issues that are important to the community can help to capture the essence of social capital more effectively. For more help on this, please check Prove It! in the tools section of this website.
Many social enterprises specialise in providing goods and services to particular groups or the overall community where there is a ‘gap’ in the market, or they may actively try to influence the provision of these goods and services. A gap in the market can mean either a particular good or service not being available locally at all, or that it is simply not affordable to all people. Meeting needs in this way may include anything from health and training provision, to goods and services with specific social or environmental benefits, such as Fair Trade goods or renewable energy, which we will come to in the section on environmental indicators.
Who might use these indicators?
Measuring increases in access to goods and services may be useful for demonstrating the effects of a development trust, community business or community development initiative, either by providing these things directly or by influencing others (e.g. local groups and statutory agencies) to provide them instead.
Measuring community needs
Looking at changes in waiting lists or surveying people about their experience of accessing particular goods and services can help to measure changes in meeting community needs. See the table below. These indicators can be measured quantitatively, indicating perhaps the percentages of people in need of a service versus those who have access, both before and after your organisation’s initiative.
Social indicators: social and human services
|Social and human services in an area|
|Measure the demand for these services and increases in provision:
1 The indicators in this table are adapted from the social capital module of the UK General Household Survey (GHS) 2000/2001 as referenced in: Walker, A. and Coulthard, M. (2004) Developing and Understanding Indicators of Social Capital. Printed in Social Capital For Health: Issues of Definition, measurement, and links to Health. Ed. Morgan, A. Swann, C. NHS Health Development Agency
Social capital and health: https://www.hda.nhs.uk/documents/socialcapital_issues.pdf
Prove it!: https://www.neweconomics.org/gen/newways_proveit.aspx
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