Otero, Gabriel, Jesper Rözer and Beate Volker (2021). Open but segregated? The relationship between social class and social capital in Chile. Social Forces

summary: This paper studies how social capital is divided across classes in Chile, one of the most unequal countries in the world. We analyse the extent to which upper-, middle-, and lower class individuals congregate in social networks with similar others, while following Bourdieu and expecting that in particular the networks of the higher social strata are segregated in terms of social capital. We test our argument with large-scale, representative survey data for the Chilean urban population aged 18–75 years (n = 2,517) and build an integrated indicator of people’s social class that combines measures of education, occupational class, and household income. Our regression analyses show that upper-class individuals have larger networks and access to more varied and prestigious social resources than their middle- and lower class counterparts. Interestingly, however, we found a U-shaped relationship between social class and class homogeneity, indicating that network segregation is high at the top as well as at the bottom of the class-based social strata. In contrast, the classes in the middle have more heterogeneous class networks, possibly forming an important bridge between the “edges” of the class structure. These findings demonstrate that whereas social and economic capital cumulates in higher classes, the lower classes are socially deprived next to their economic disadvantage.

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