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The Relational Gaze on a Changing Society

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Edited By Paolo Terenzi and Elisabetta Carrà

Relational sociology is coming increasingly to the fore on the international academic stage. As it invariably happens in such circumstances, when a new paradigm attracts a growing number of scholars, researchers and practitioners, it is almost inevitably interpreted and identified in many different ways. This book aims to highlight the specific nature of relational sociology, disseminates knowledge about the relational approach which has been developed in Italy and in Europe starting from the work of Pierpaolo Donati, and confronts this approach with issues which are currently much debated in social theory, social research and social work. The authors try to consolidate the directions taken in the research field in order to distinguish relational sociology from other approaches which are not relational, or are only so to a certain degree.

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Analysing Family Social Capital in a Relational Perspective: A Pilot Research in Northern Italy

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1 Introduction

The present study intends to illustrate the results of a pilot survey aimed at exploring the relationship between the structural aspect of family social capital (relationship networks) and its main qualitative components, i.e. trust, reciprocity and cooperative orientation, on the basis of a review of the literature oriented by a relational sociology outlook. Besides, the two functions of bonding (re: intra-family relationships) and bridging (re: inter-family relationships) have been distinguished, with an aim to investigate their mutual relationship, assuming its circularity, in contradiction with the notion, recurrent in the literature and confirmed in the How’s Life? OECD report, that bonding relationships, such as those within a family, can promote values harmful to society: “Too much bonding in the absence of bridging SC can lead to ‘in group/out group’ dynamics, leading to the exclusion of those outside the bonding group. Network can also foster values that are detrimental for society, as in the case with mafia or terrorist organisations” (OECD 2011: 71).

To carry out the research and validate the hypotheses, six ad hoc scales have been developed to measure intra- and inter-family social capital. A preliminary analysis of the literature has in fact highlighted a lack of clarity in the scales and indicators used so far.

First of all, the literature on, and definitions of, social capital will be reviewed, with particular reference to family social capital, and the relational approach will be expounded; secondly, the indicators used for measuring...

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