|SOME THEORIES USED TO RESEARCH THE INTEGRATION OF ... (1)|
|SOME THEORIES USED TO RESEARCH THE INTEGRATION OF IMMIGRANTS INTO THE LABOUR-POWER MARKET|
There are several theories that are used to research the integration or participation processes of immigrants into the labour-power market in the receiving capitalist societies. While some of them, such as human capital theory, are extensively used, others, such as Marxist class analysis, are largely ignored. In the following pages I provide a short account as well as critiques of these theories.
2.2.1 Human capital theory
The origin of human capital theory goes back to the emergence of classical economics in the 18th century. According to Fitzsimons (1999), in his book The Wealth of Nations (1776), “Adam Smith formulated the basis of what was later to become the science of human capital.”
Theory of human capital is originally developed and used to measure the influence of formal education on earnings of people employed in firms (Bowles and Gintis, 1975; Jamil, 2004; Kessler & Lülfesmann, 2000; Burdett, K., C. Carrillo-Tudela and M. G. Coles, 2009; Constant and Zimmermann (2009); Haupt, A. and S. Uebelmesser 2010). Burdett et al. (2009, p.2) point out that “since the pioneering work of Becker (1975) and Mincer (1974), human capital theory has been used to explain the wage growth of workers over the life cycle. According to this theory, wages increase as workers accumulate firm specific and general skills.” But, what is human capital?
Human capital has been defined in various ways. Drawing on various definition given by different auteurs (Becker 1964; Bowles and Gintis, 1975; Werner 1994; Jamil, 2004; Kessler & Lülfesmann, 2000; Lucassen et al., 2006; Schuller, 2007; Burdett, K., C. Carrillo-Tudela and M. G. Coles, 2009; Haupt, A. and S. Uebelmesser 2010) the human capital can generally be defined as the knowledge, skills, experience, potential and capacity, which individuals possess in order to function in the labour market. Broadly defined, “human capital corresponds to any stock of knowledge or characteristics the worker has (either innate or acquired) that contributes to his or her “productivity”.” (Acemoglu and Autor, 2011, p.3). Human capital can also be referred to as the quality of labour, which “can be accumulated in two ways: during the early stage of life by going to school and spending on education; during the working life by accumulating experience (learning-by-doing) or by on-the-job training. (Kuper and Kuper, 2004, p. 270). In reference to the works of H.G.Johnson and G.S.Becker, Lin (1999) notes that, as Marx’s classical theory of capital does, human capital theory “also conceives capital as investment (e.g., in education) with certain expected returns (earnings). Individual workers invest in technical skills and knowledge so that they can negotiate with those in control of the production process (firms and their agents) for payment of their labor-skill. This payment has value that may be more than what the purchase of subsisting commodities would require and, thus, contain surplus values which in part can be spent for leisure and lifestyle needs and in part turned into capital.”
Davenport asserts that the definition of human capital can be refined by breaking it into three elements, which are “ability, behavior, and effort." Where ability and behaviour means respectively “proficiency in a set of activities or forms of work” and “observable ways of acting that contribute to the accomplishment of a task.” “Effort is the conscious application of mental and physical resources toward a particular end.” Contrary what economists do(1) , he adds time as the fourth element to the definition of human capital. In this context “time refers to the chronological element of human capital investment: hours per day, years in a career, or any unit in between.” (1999, p. 19-21) In short, "human capital is essentially an individual asset, defined in terms of skills, competences and qualifications, although also sometimes in terms of years of schooling." (Schuller, 2007).
According to human capital theory, there exist “several alternative forms of human capital, including formal schooling, job experience and skills acquired through formal on-the-job training” Chiswick and Miller (2007, p.2). “Investment in human capital includes education, labor market experience (with specific or general on-the-job training), health (both mental and physical), and knowledge about the labor market…” (Constant and Zimmermann, 2009, p.2) Regarding the role of formal education, Jamil (2004, p, 10-11) points out that, according to human capital theory, “there is a causal link between education and earnings” and “a person’s formal education determines his or her earning power.” Education is, therefore, “considered an investment because it is believed that it could potentially bestow private and social benefits.” Theorists who adhere to human capital theory “believe that education and earning power are correlated, which means, theoretically, that the more education one has, the more he can earn, and that the skills, knowledge and abilities that education provides can be transferred into the work place in terms of productivity.” Human capital researchers, therefore, use “common educational qualifications as the human capital indicator.” (2004, p. 15)
Human capital theory supposes that, as Bowles and Gintis point out, “individuals exhibiting a particular subjective rate of time preference, and faced with an array of jobs having specified pecuniary and nonpecuniary attractions and requiring certain skills, will embark upon a course of investment in personal development. The supply of human capital is the simple aggregation of these individual choices. The demand for those services which turn raw potentials into developed capacities is derived from the individual demand for human capital.” These services, which can shortly be summarised as education, “account for the treatment of labor as a ‘produced means of production’ “(1975, p.77).
Human capital theory has been criticised in numerous ways. Fine (1998, p. 69) argues that “there are two major and broad criticisms that can be made human capital theory.” The first criticism involves theory. “By reducing the production and use (and definition) of skills to a factor akin to a physical asset, that can be created and employed in production like any other”, human capital theory sets aside “the distinctive features of education and training and their deployment”. Or, they are “merely introduced as complicating rather than determining factors.” The second criticism is about “(statistical) practice”. In practice, human capital theory “has been used in empirical work in the most causal and simplistic fashion, as if the functioning and outcomes in a labour market could be specified adequately with a single equation with a greater or lesser number of variables thrown in to represent normal or abnormal functioning of the labour market.”
According to Blunden (2004), “human capital is another fad term which, while describing human beings as a form of money, aims to encourage companies to enhance the quality of their labour force and governments to take action to improve the quality of the available pool of labour.” Fitzsimons (Fitzsimons, 1999, p. 2) draws attention to “one external and one internal” critique of this theory. He asserts that “the clearest statement of the deficiencies of human capital theory goes to the heart of neo-classical economics.” The first basic building block of neo-classical economics is, according F. Block, paraphrased by Fitzsimons, “the idea that the economy is an analytically separate realm of society that can be understood in terms of its own internal dynamics.” Economic sociology, mainly represented by Block (1990), “challenges the first assumption by arguing that the society and culture can not be arbitrarily split of (sic.) from the economy. Clearly, both the society and culture shape the preferences of individuals in various ways.” “…Human capital theory, then, is an impoverished notion of capital. It is unable to understand human activity other than as the exchange of commodities and the notion of capital employed is purely a quantitative one. This misses the point that capital is an independent social force where the creation of social value comes about through its capital accumulation and continual transformation through the circulation of commodities...” (Fitzsimons, 1999, p. 3) Fitzsimons argues that “human capital is an abstract form of labour – a commodity – and not capital”, and comes to the conclusion that “commodities such as human capital are therefore part of the life cycle of capitalism as a form of labour and not able to be exchanged independently of it.”
The second basic building block of neo-classical economics is “the assumption that individuals act rationally to maximise utilities.” This “assumption exposed by Block (1990) which is of primary importance to human capital theory” supposes that “all human behaviour is based on the economic self-interest individuals operating within freely competitive markets. Other forms of behaviour are excluded or treated as merely distortions of the model.”
Human capital theory neglects/ignores the social class background of immigrants when discussing the level of education and skills required by the existing economic structure. Bowles and Gintis (1975, p.74) argue that this theory “is the most recent, and perhaps ultimate, step in the elimination of class as a central economic concept.” They assert that the 1830 witnessed the decline of Ricardian economics in England. Since then “non-Marxian economic theory has moved steadily away from attributing control of factors of production to identifiable groups and toward a theory of factor payments which self-consciously abstracts from the specific nature of the productive factors involved.” Bowles and Gintis (1975, p.74-75) find human capital theory “to be substantially misleading both as a framework for empirical research and as a guide to policy.” They base their critique on the exclusion of class and class conflict in the theory of human capital: “By restricting its analysis of exogenously given individual preferences, raw materials (individual abilities) and alternative production technologies, human capital theory formally excludes the relevance of class and class conflict to the explication of labor market phenomena…” Their critique “stems from a Marxian theory of the capitalist firm”. As argued by Bowles and Gintis production is “a social as well as technical process”. It is “always joint production, constituting a transformation of raw materails into products and of workers with given skills and types of consciousness into workers with altered (or stabilized) skills and consciousness.” They further assert that “labor is not a commodity, but a rather an active agent whose efforts on behalf of its own objectives must be channelled, thwarted, or used to generate profits, and “the structure of wage rates is not exogenous to the firm, but rather one of the instruments used to maximize profits.”
In this context, Bowles and Gintis introduce the distinction made by Karl Marx between “labour” and ‘labour power” in discussion According to Marx, labour power is … the labour “is the capacity of the individual to contribute to the production process in its current technical and organizational form”. Labour power “is a commodity, defined by the worker’s physical and mental capacities and skills, behavioural characteristics, and potential impact on the performance of other in cooperative production”, whereas labour or “actual work” “represents the concrete activity.” (1975, p.75-76). “Skills are not separable from labor power as productive assets.” (Carchedi, 1989, p. 114).
In their criticism of the human capital theory, Bowles and Gintis (1975, p.79) draw attention to “the schizophrenic usage of the word capital.” They argue that the usage of the expression human capital has been justified human capital theorists by the fact that “skills, like other assets, constitute a claim on future income. This usage is thoroughly in the neo-classical tradition.” In the classical tradition “the concept capital encompassed and unified two distinct aspects: the claim on future income and the ownership and control over the means of production.” As to education, Bowles and Gintis assert that although “learning allows one to go to into production on one’s own, education cannot be called capital in the classical sense.”
Jamil points out that although correlation exists between educational qualifications and earning, he challenges the idea that there is a causal link between these. He gives the following arguments to dispute this causation: “non-educational factors also influence earnings”; “there are weaknesses in the way ‘benefits’ and ‘costs’ of education in Human Capital research” are defined”; “there is scepticism of the indicators of social benefits claimed to have resulted from investment in education”; “limitations of data sources generally used in Human Capital research tend to distort reality”; “weaknesses are inherent in the way that Human Capital research is conducted due to its nature as an economic research.” (2004, p. 10) As to the usage and importance of formal “educational attainment as a determinant of earnings” in human capital research, Jamil maintains that “benefits resulting from lifelong learning initiatives, informal education, trainings undertaken out of personal initiatives, knowledge and skills gained from personal experience, and tacit knowledge are not being considered.” (2004, p. 10)
2.2.2 Theory of social capital
Since the 1990s the concept social capital has widely been used in the social sciences. As pointed out by Perkins et al., the concept social capital “grew out of the sociology of education (Bourdieu, 1985; Coleman, 1988) but quickly spread to the rest of the social sciences and into the community development literature (Falk & Kilpatrick, 2000; Flora, 1998).” Social capital “is generally defined and measured at the interpersonal, community, institutional, or societal levels in terms of both bridging and bonding social connections (Gittell & Vidal, 1998; Narayan, 1999; Putnam, 2000; Saegert, Thompson & Warren, 2001).” (2002, p. 34)
What is social capital?
The concept ‘social capital’ has been defined in various ways. In the social capital literature there is no consensus what the concept means. A number of theorists have contributed to the development of the concept. The basic idea can be summarised as follows: “others and their resources make significant contributions to personal achievements in our lives. “ (Van der Gaag, 2005). "The central idea of social capital”, according to Field, “is that social networks are a valuable asset." (2003, p. 12).
The central thinkers on social capital Bourdieu, Coleman and Putnam “represent early attempts to identify and conceptualize” the social capital theory. Their ideas form “the basis of contemporary discussions on social capital.” “Bourdieu is responsible for bringing the concept and term social capital into present-day discussions.” (Claridge, 2004). According to Bourdieu (1986), “social capital is the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition – or in other words, to membership in a group – which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectivity-owned capital, a ‘credential’ which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word…” Bourdieu’s approach to social capital involves “critical theories of class societies (Wall et al. 1988) “ and differ from the normative approach of Putnam and Coleman, and the network based utilitarian approach of Burt and Lin (Claridge, 2004). Field asserts that “Bourdieu really thought that social capital was an asset of the privileged and a means of maintaining their superiority. There was no place in his theory for the possibility that other, less privileged individuals and groups might also find benefit in their social ties.” (2003, p. 20).
Coleman defines social capital as follows: “Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity, but a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors-- whether persons or corporate actors-- within the structure. “(1988, p. S98; 1990, p.302). Bourdieu’s and Coleman’s thinking about social capital differ from each other. According to Field, Bourdieu's treatment of social capital “boils down to the thesis that privileged individuals maintain their position by using their connections with other privileged people”. Whereas Coleman has a more nuanced view as “he discerns the value of connections for all actors, individual and collective, privileged and disadvantaged. (Field, 2003, p. 28) Although Bourdieu and Coleman have “conceptual differences”, their usage of the concept “led to similar operational definitions” that “were based on the network of relationships in which individuals and families were embedded and on the density and other characteristics of such networks. When Putnam telescoped the concept into much larger social units, the empirical focus changed from the immediate circle of relationships surrounding individuals and families to aggregate characteristics of the population.” (Portes and Vickstrom, 2011, p. 462)
Putnam et al. define social capital as “features of social organization, such as trust, norms, and networks, that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated actions:" (1993, p. 167) Referring to the concept of social capital becoming “an exponentially expanding and controversial literature”, Putnam emphasises his definition of social capital as “social networks and the associated norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness. The core insight of this approach is extremely simple: like tools (physical capital) and training (human capital), social networks have value.” (2007, p. 137). The definition provided by Lin can perhaps summarise all these definitions: “Social capital consists of resources embedded in one's network or associations." (2001, p. 55-56). Referred to by Schuller (2007), D. Halpern specifies social capital as "social networks and the norms and sanctions that govern their character". “This reflects the increasingly primary place given to networks over other components which have often been included in social capital conceptualizations” in social capital literature (Schuller).
The origin of the concept goes back to Tocqueville’s analysis of civic associations in the 19th century of the United States of America. In his analysis of the associational life in the United States of America, Tocqueville emphasised the importance of civic associations “as the key to their unprecedented ability” of Americans “to make democracy work.” (Putnam, 2000). Ruz acknowledges that although “the idea behind the concept of social capital, that social relations and social structures are a source of benefits and returns for individuals and groups can be traced to the sources of classic sociology (Simmel, Durkheim, Marx)”, it was Bourdieu and Coleman who laid down the foundation of social capital theory by building “a specific conceptual field and research agenda around the concept” (2011, p.19).
However, it took a long time to develop the concept ‘social capital’. Van der Gaag points out that, according to Lin, “the term social capital was already mentioned incidentally in the 19th century”. Auteurs such as S.P. Borgatti and P. Paxton “have traced back the term to the works of “L.J. Hanifan and J. Jacobs. Auteurs came to agree that the resources of the persons that we know “can also be seen as ‘capital’ … since they are complementary in individual goal attainment.” Drawing on the definition of K.H. Hennings of capital, Van der Gaag argues that the introduction of the concept social capital into social research followed the footsteps of the incorporation of financial, political, human and cultural resources, understood as capital, into social research. Hennings, cited by Van der Gaag, defines capital as “a stock (at a point of time) of different capital goods” which are “produced commodities which are required for production” This understanding of capital “was also transferred to the study of social relations and social networks.” In the case of social capital, the ‘capital goods’ “are represented by the resources owned by social network members.” (2005, p.3)” According to Flap, paraphrased by Van der Gaag (2005, p. 5), the “presumption that individuals engage in interactions and networking in order to produce profits, in material or expressive form” lays at the basis of social capital theory. That is to say “people will purposefully invest in their social relationships when they perceive a certain future benefit from it, and take the expected value of future support as a motivation for action.” The general idea in Van der Gaag’s research is that ”relationships with other people can be seen as openings to collections of available resources, in addition to or as a substitute for personal resources” (2005, p.2). Concerning his own research, he provides the following definition of social capital “as a basis for measurement construction” of individual social capital: “Social capital is the collection of resources owned by the members of an individual's personal social network, which may become available to the individual as a result of the history of these relationships.” (2005, p.20).
As Kazemipur (2006) puts it "examination of social networks is at the heart of any study on social capital." In summary, as Ruz points out, although definitions of social capital “vary in scope and emphasis … a general review of them ... refers to: (a) social relations - in the form of ties and contacts (b) network as a structure of social relations, (b) norms (c) resources (d) trust (e) benefits and returns.”(2011, p. 3-4)
As can be noted, there seems to be agreement in the social capital research “on the definition that social capital comprises ‘expected returns to social relationships’: relationships with and between others help individuals to accomplish goals they cannot achieve on their own.” In the social capital literature a distinction has also been made between individual level social capital and collective level social capital. Individual level social capital involves “investments, relationships, reciprocity, resources”, while collective level social capital refers to “trust, norms, cohesion” (Van der Gaag, 2005, p.6)
Some theorists (Coleman, 1998, 1990; Portes, 1998; Portes en Vickstrom, 2011; Putnam, 1993, 2004, 2007) conceive social capital as a collective good. They belong to those scholars who define social capital at collective level. According to perspective of collective level social capital, social capital is the outcome of participation and involvement at group level. This perspective on social capital emphasises the importance of social networks. Other theorists such as Bourdieu, Lin and Portes, to name some, have the perspective of individual level of social capital. They focus “on social capital as an additional pool of resources embedded in the social networks of individuals, which can help to achieve individual goals in conjunction with or instead of personal resources.” (Van der Gaag, p.6) Coleman's conception of social capital as ‘a capital asset for the individual’, which is built up of 'social structural resources', according to Field, “bridged both individual and collective” level of social capital perspectives (Field, 2003, p. 25).
Bonding and bridging social capital
There has also a distinction been made between different types of social capital, namely bonding, bridging and linking social capital (Putnam, 2000, 2007; Woolcock and Narayan, 2000; Woolcock, 2001, Schuller, 2007; Kanas, 2011; Ruz, 2011; Lancee, 2012). These types of social capital have been defined in various ways. “Loosely defined, bonding refers to within-group connections, while bridging social capital refers to between-group connections” (Lancee, 2012, p.14). Bonding social capital denotes “ties to people who are like you in some important way” (such as immediate family members and close friends), while bridging social capital refers to “ties to people who are unlike you in some important way” (such as acquaintances, loose friendships and colleagues) (Putnam, 2007, p.143). As Perkins et al. point out “social capital is generally defined and measured at the interpersonal, community, institutional, or societal levels in terms of networks (bridging) and norms of reciprocity and trust (bonding) within those networks.” (2002, p. 33). “Bridging is”, asserts Woolcock, “essentially a horizontal metaphor … implying connections between people who share broadly similar demographic characteristics.” Referring to auteurs such as J. Fox, P. Heller, L. Brown and A. Hirschman he adds that “social capital also has a vertical dimension”, which denotes “forging alliances with sympathetic individuals in positions of power” and “can be called “linkages.” According to World Bank, “the capacity to leverage resources, ideas, and information from formal institutions beyond the community is a key function of linking social capital.” (2001, p.10-11)
In short, bonding social capital refers to relations “between relatively homogeneous individuals (family members, close friends and neighbors),” bridging capital refers to “ties between relatively more socially distant individuals”, and linking capital denotes “ties that connect individuals from different social strata or power positions.” (Ruz, 2011, p.18)
What is ‘capital’ in social capital theory?
Various auteurs (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1990; Burt, 2000; Lin, 1999 and 2001; Ruz, 2011) have explained what makes social capital a capital, which generates returns when invested. Coleman conceives “social-structural resources as a capital asset for the individual” (social capital), and argues that like “physical capital and human capital” “social capital is productive, making possible the achievement of certain ends that would not be attainable in its absence.” (1990, p. 302) In Coleman’s usage social capital is productive because it generates “profits and returns for individual and corporate actors.” “In the context of the analysis of social action from the perspective of rational choice”, in which Coleman places the concept, “social capital is an asset in which the players invest (for its creation, accumulation and growth), managing credit and debt rationally in their dealings with others and seeking to maximize the profits captured from their social capital.” (Ruz, 2011, p. 2-3) Bourdieu’s (1986) characterisation of social capital as a form of capital can be summarised as follows: it can generate material and symbolic profits. The former takes the form of goods and services while the latter returns to the owner of social capital as prestige. Referring to various scholars, Lin (2001) points out that “investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace’ is the premise behind social capital theory. “The market chosen for analysis”, he asserts, “may be economic, political, labor, or community.” (p. 19) According to him, when ascribed or acquired “resources are being invested for expected returns in the marketplace, they become social capital.” (2001, p. 55). Social capital is capital, that is, an investment, which generates returns in the labour market, for example (2001, p. 101). Lin (1999) calls theories of human capital, cultural capital and social capital “the neo-capitalist theories”, the distinctive feature of which “resides in the potential investment and capture of surplus value by the laborers or masses.” According to him, “these theories break significantly from the classical theory” of capital of Marx. In the conceptualisation of Marx, he argues, “capital is part of the surplus value captured by capitalists or the bourgeoisie, who control production means, in the circulations of commodities and monies between the production and consumption processes. In these circulations, laborers are paid for their labor (commodity) with a wage allowing them to purchase commodities (such as food, shelter, and clothing) to sustain their lives (exchange value).” Following Lin, Ruz (2011) describes social capital as “a particular type of capital”, which is characterised by, among others, by the following the aspect that “it is a productive resource that generates benefits of well-being and returns in a variety of markets.” (p. 14). It “resides in social relations and in the transfer of resources that emanate from them.” (p. 19)
Although it is widely used in the social sciences, the concept social capital remains a controversial and a problematic one (Portes, 1998; Castle, 2000; Smith, 2000-2009; Fine, 2001, 2003; Englebert, 2001; Robison et al., 2002; Blunden, 2004; Claridge, 2004; Van der Gaag, 2005; Schuller, 2007; Andriani and Karyampas, 2009; Andriani, 2010). “The controversy relates to its conceptual status--its validity and empirical applicability--and to its imputed political implications.” (Schuller, 2007). It has been criticised from different perspectives in the social capital literature.
There exists confusion about the origin and meaning of the concept. Putnam’s research has played a significant role in this confusion. “Putnam’s work, while popularizing the concept, led to a significant weakening of the conceptualization and operationalization of the concept.” Putnam “applied a single proxy analysis of social capital and applied it to good governance.” Because of his prominent position in social capital literature “many authors followed in his footsteps, and Putnam’s lack of rigor was replicated in piece-meal works across a variety of disciplines”, which resulted in “a plethora of definitions and operationalization of the concept that led to the theory itself being questioned.” (Claridge, 2007) Healy (2001) notes that some see “social capital as an extension of economic concepts across the social sciences” while others ‘use it to draw attention to indicators of social and individual well-being, such as trust and access to support networks, that are typically ignored in conventional economic calculations.” As conceded by Healy “much of the literature on the topic remains vague about what this concept means, how it is to be achieved, and its strengths and limitations. (2001). “Despite its current popularity, the term does not embody any idea really new to sociologists. That involvement and participation in groups can have positive consequences for the individual and the community is a staple notion, dating back to Durkheim’s emphasis on group life as an antidote to anomie and self- destruction and to Marx’s distinction between an atomized class-in-itself and a mobilized and effective class-for-itself. “(Portes, 1998, p. 2). Because "the set of processes encompassed by the concept are not new and have been studied under other labels in the past" to call “them social capital is, to a large extent, just a means of presenting them in a more appealing conceptual garb." Social ties can have positive as well as negative consequences. Therefore, "the processes alluded to by the concept" should preferably be approached” as social facts to be studied in all their complexity, rather than as examples of a value.” (Portes, 1998). He points out that "as a label for the positive effects of sociability", social capital “has a place in theory and research." It should, however, be recognised that it has “different sources and effects" and downsides of these sources and effects be "examined with equal attention." (p. 22-23)
There have been criticism of the usage of the concept ‘capital’, or the so-called ‘the capital metaphor’ in social capital theory (Arrow, 1999; Solow, 1999; Castle, 2000; Smith, 2000-2009; Fine, 2001; Cohen and Prusak, 2001; Englebert, 2001). For example, Fine, one of the outspoken critic of social capital theory, argues that “the social sciences are replete with the economic and the non-economic examined separately from one another, with each subsequently extended to consider the other.” This artificial separation of capital and social, which “is most apparent in the notion of social capital” “are brought back together in this all-encompassing term.” (2001, p. 38). “Any use of the term social capital is an implicit acceptance of the stance of mainstream economics, in which capital is first and foremost a set of asocial endowments possessed by individuals rather than, for example, an exploitative relation between classes and the broader social relations that sustain them.” Fine notes that “the very terminology of social capital signifies its weaknesses. That the notion "social" needs to be attached to capital to mark a distinct category is indicative of the failure to understand capital as social in what is taken to be its more mundane economic, putatively non-social, form. (2001, p. 192) Solow criticises the usage of the concept capital in social capital theory arguing that, paraphrased by Robison et al. (2002), it was “an attempt to gain conviction from a bad analogy”, and that “‘capital’ stands for a stock of produced or natural factors of production that can be expected to yield productive services for some time.” Smith (2000-2009) draws attention to the dangers of ‘capitalization’ despite some utility that the notion of social capital has. D. Cohen and L. Prusak, auteurs of ‘In Good Company. How social capital makes organizations work’ (2001), paraphrased by Smith, “note that not everything of value should be called ‘capital’. “There is a deep danger of skewing our consideration of social phenomenon and goods towards the economic. The notion of capital brings with it a whole set of discourses and inevitably links it, in the current context, to capitalism.” Castle draws a similar attention to the danger of the usage of ‘capital’ (“an economic concept”) in social capital theory: “If ‘social’ is to be married to ‘capital’ it cannot be used to refer to every human social arrangement in existence. Some social arrangement may be obsolete and few will be useful for all purposes. It makes no more sense to refer to them as capital it does to refer to obsolete man-made machinery as capital.”(2000, p.6). In Blunden’s (2004) view, although the idea of social capital “sheds light “on the non-economic factors which allow poor or marginalised communities to improve their situation”, the term ‘social capital’ is “semantic paradox”, “an amalgam of two terms”, which “introduces the language, concepts and methods of economic science into the political-economy of poverty.”
2.2.3 Social network analysis
Immigration and integration literature shows that network theory is widely used to examine the process of labour-market integration of immigrants (Granovetter, 1973; Werner, 1994; Edin et al. 2000; Zorlu, 2002; Selvi, 2006; Euwals et al., 2007; Boswell and Mueser, 2008; Danzer and Ulku 2008; Faist, 2010; Kogan et al,, 2011; Schunck, 2011; de Valk et al., 2011; Wiegens et al., 2011; Portes and Vickstrom , 2011; Lancee, 2012).
Integration into the community or society takes place essentially via informal social groupings and formal institutions. Since they create opportunities, networks of various kinds (educational, cultural, political, economic, ethnic, interethnic and intercultural) are crucial in the integration process. For this reason, this study explores the social networks in which participants of this research take place.
A theory, which captures the importance of the social networks in functioning in society, is social network theory/analysis. “Social network analysis (SNA) is both a theoretical perspective and a set of methods.” In terms of theory it focuses “on the causes and consequences of relations between people and among sets of people rather than on the features of individuals. In terms of method, social network analysis “focuses on the measurement of relationships between people” (SNA Encyclopedia).
Social network theory studies “the impact on the behavior of individuals of the social networks in which they are imbedded” (Granovetter, 1973). This theory is differentiated into two types: the sociocentric (whole) network theory and the egocentric (personal) network theory. The sociocentric network theory focuses “on measuring the structural patterns of those interactions and how those patterns explain outcomes, like the concentration of power or other resources, within the group” (Granovetter, 1973). The egocentric network theory focuses on the networks of individuals. According to Granovetter (1973), “the egocentric network [is] made up of ego, his contacts, and their contacts.”
This type of network comprises the people that a person knows, such as “spouses, children, cousins, co-workers, church members, book club members, or just plain friends. “From this perspective, each person has their own network of relationships that cut across many groups and that contribute to their behaviors and attitudes” (SNA_Encyclopedia).
Borgatti et al. discuss several persistent criticisms against social network research within the social sciences. These criticisms involve theory, agency, dynamics, cognition and the double-hermeneutic.
‘Perhaps the oldest criticism”, suggest the auteurs, “ is that the field lacks a (native) theoretical understanding – it is “merely descriptive” or “just methodology”.’ They argue that “the notion that there is no native network theory seems patently wrong, at least in the social sciences today.”
Another criticism directed to network theory is that it “lacks agency in the sense that it neglects subjectivity and human intentionality.” They note that to some extent this criticism is true since “for some network researchers, the appeal of the field is precisely the possibility of explaining human action without recourse to what they would regard as mystical factors, such as intentions and dispositions.” They add that “much of the work on antecedents of networks is based on a model of an active agent making choices of who to have ties with. This is also true of much of the work on social capital – the notion that one can invest in one’s ties or position and obtain a return on that investment.”
Criticism of dynamics “refers to the lack of attention that social network researchers are thought to have paid to the evolution of networks – how ties form, are maintained, and decay over time.” They note that although “this criticism is probably overstated”, “the bulk of the work in social network analysis has focused on the consequences of networks rather than the antecedents.”
As to the criticism of cognition, “a key element of social networks is that the nodes are capable of cognition.” That is to say that “people are reflective and projective creatures, and this affects how they react to their network positions, and how they change their network positions in pursuit of their goals.” This has led to a situation in which “network researchers in the social sciences have become increasingly interested in how individual actors perceive (and systematically misperceive) the structure of the networks they are embedded in, and the consequences these perceptions can have for such outcomes as workplace performance.”
Borgatti et al. acknowledge that “network research in the social sciences” faced the possibility of being challenged that “social science concepts can become a part of the very world they describe.” “Social science theories can diffuse through a population, influencing the way people see themselves and how they act, a phenomenon that sociologist Anthony Giddens described as the double‐hermeneutic.” (2009, p. 17-19)
2.2.4 Class analysis
Since Dutch society is a class-divided society, new immigrants integrate into the existing social-class structure. This insertion of immigrants into the social division of labour takes place via employment. New immigrants bring with themselves class culture as well as “class resources”(2), which they have accumulated in the country of origin, such as knowledge of foreign languages, acquaintance with the dominant culture in the receiving society. They make use of these class resources in the new environment, and they also attain new class resources. Integration of new immigrants into the labour-power market is a process of transition from origin class to destination class. It is also a question of downward as well as upward social mobility. Participation in the production processes in general and in the labour-power market in particular, constitutes the essence of integration into a social class structure. For these reasons class analysis plays a crucial role in investigating the process of integration of new immigrants into the labour-power market.
Grusky and Sorensen argue that “the prevailing view, especially among European commentators, is that the site of production is indeed of diminishing relevance in understanding stratification systems...” (1998: 1212). However, as argued by Cox, ‘production creates the material basis for all forms of social existence, and the ways in which human efforts are combined in productive processes affect all other aspects of social life, including the polity.’ This assertion of “the centrality of production, indeed, leads directly to the matter of social classes” (Cox, 1987, p. 1-2).
Social classes are agents of social life, and they occupy different positions in socio-economic, cultural, and political life. They are “the basic (but obviously not the only) unit of social life and thus of social research.” (Carchedi, 1987, p. 80) Class analysis makes it possible to investigate socio-economic ‘integration’ in terms of social relations that “can be defined as the mode of existence of people as units (parts) of society (the whole)” (Carchedi, 1987, p. 94).
As Guveli, referring to several writers (R. Breen, D.B. Rottman, J. Pakulski and M. Waters), points out “there is much confusion about what constitutes a social class”. “This confusion has partly engendered the discussions about the ‘death’ of social class as a concept.” (2007, p.12-13). The concept of social class has been a useful theoretical tool to study and identify the societies. “However, from the late 1980s, the relevance of social class in sociological enquiry has come into question. Some have announced its ‘death’ (Pakulski & Waters, 1996a) whereas others have declared the emergence of new class cleavages within the middle class (Bruce-Briggs, 1979; Brint, 1984; Lamont, 1987; Kriesi, 1989; Esping-Andersen, 1993; De Graaf & Steijn, 1997).” (Guveli, 2007, p. 11).
Conception of social class
There is no consensus around the conceptual meaning of social class in social science literature. There are two classical traditions of ‘class analysis’: Marxist and Weberian traditions. Marxists or Marxist-inspired/influenced writers generally define social class as groups of people who share a similar position in relation the means of production (Lenin, 1971; Carchedi, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991; Cox, 1987, Petras, 1998). Max Weber, as referred to by Giddens (1977, p. 80) defines social class as “a phenomenon which operates independently of the individual’s perception of his situation, since it is given in the structure of the market.”
As Carchedi argues classes are first of all identifiable in terms of production relations: ‘all those people carrying the same aspects of production relations belong objectively to the same class. Classes thus become the basic (but obviously not the only) unit of social life and thus of social research‘(1987: 80). Max Weber, for example, defined it as ‘a phenomenon which operates independently of the individual’s perception of his situation, since it is given in the structure of the market.’ (Giddens 1977: 80). Talcott Parsons uses the term ‘class’ virtually equivalent to ‘status group’. He proposes ‘to define class status, for the unit of social structure, as position on the hierarchical dimension of the differentiation of the societal system; and to consider social class as an aggregate of such units, individual and/or collective, that in their own estimation and those of others in the society occupy positions of approximately equal status in this respect’ (quoted in Giddens 1977: 315, n.19). M. Kohn and K. M. Slomcynski identify social classes as ‘distinct groups [that are] internally heterogeneous, each encompassing a wide spectrum of occupations.’ (Grusky and Sorensen 1998: 1189).
(Neo-)Weberian class analysis
The Goldthorpe class schema, which is widely held to be neo-Weberian in conception, has been extensively used in empirical class analysis since the 1980’s. (Breen, 2005). In their revised class schema, Erikson and Goldthorpe maintain that the “aim of class schema is to differentiate positions within labour markets and production units or, more specifically, one could say, to differentiate such positions in terms of the employment relations that they entail.” They argue that they derive the principles of differentiation “from classic sources, in particular, from Marx and Max Weber: “From both sources, we can derive a basic, threefold division of class positions, as follows: 1. employers: i.e. those who buy the labour of others and thus assume some degree of authority and control over them; 2. self-employed workers without employees: those who neither buy the labour of others nor sell their own; (1992, p.37). In the research program of class analysis of Goldthorpe and Marshall, classes are understood as ‘historically formed macro-social structures’ (1992, p. 382) “that allow one to use a few well-defined concepts such as class position, class origin and class (im)mobility in order to understand important social processes.” (Guveli, 2007, p.13). Goldthorpe and Marshall argue that their research program explores “the interconnection between positions defined by in labour markets and production units in different sectors of national economies; the processes through which individuals and families are distributed and redistributed among these positions over time; and the consequences thereof for their life-chances and for the social identities that they adopt and the social values and interest that they pursue” (1992: 382). As noted by Guveli (2007, p. 13), Goldthorpe and Marshall theorise classes according to occupational structure.
(Neo-)Marxist class analysis
Although Marxists generally define social class as groups of people who share a similar position in relation the means of production, there is no consensus around the conceptual meaning of social class in social science literature inspired by Marxism. There are two variants of Marxist and/or Marxist-inspired conception of social class: classical Marxist and neo-Marxist. Marxists, especially those who adhere to the “classical Marxism” argue that social class is the basic unit of social life and thus of social research (Carchedi, 1987, p.80; 1989).
The core idea behind the classical Marxist conception of social classes is that they should be defined in terms of production relations and the consequent exploitation. One of the distinctive features of Marx’s theory is “the conception of social classes in terms of the system of production” (Bottomore, 1973, p. 18) “The Marxist concept of classes” is “rooted in production relations”, not “in distributional and occupational categories” (Carchedi, 1989, p.125). As argued earlier, classes are first of all identifiable in terms of production relations: “all those people carrying the same aspects of production relations belong objectively to the same class. Classes, not individuals, thus become the basic (but obviously not the only) unit of social life and thus of social research.” (Carchedi, 1987, p.80; 1989).
Lenin (1971) provides the following definition of social classes: ‘... Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.’ (p. 231). These definitions of social class do correspond to the conception of Marx(3):
“In production, men not only act on nature but also on one another. They produce only by co-operating in a certain way and mutually exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into definite connections and relations with one another and only within these social connections and relations does their action on nature, does production, take place.These social relations into which the producers enter with one another, the conditions under which they exchange their activities and participate in the whole act of production, will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production.” (1955, p. 89)
Resnick and Wolff (2003) maintain that even though Marx “used both multiple singular and also some composite conceptualizations of class across his writings” the focus was “upon the production, appropriation, and distribution of surplus” value.
We have seen that as far as the conceptualisation of social class is concerned, classical Marxists emphasise location in the production and the consequent exploitation. Erik Olin Wright, regarded as the most prominent neo-Marxist sociologist on social class, adds to his conceptualisation Weberian aspects, namely the emphasis on market capacity in exchange relations (4) (Wright, 2005; Resnick and Wolff, 2003). Wright (1985) argues that “property relations accounts of classes do not define classes by income shares, by the results of market transactions, but by the productive assets which classes control” (p.73). In this neo-Marxist approach “ownership of the means of production is seen” “as property, as distribution relations, not as production relations.” (Carchedi, 1989, p. 113) Carchedi (1989), argues that “Wright has chosen a frame of reference in which … the Marxist unit of analysis (classes) has been replaced by individuals …the Marxist concept of classes rooted in production relations by a concept rooted in distributional and occupational categories ….” (p. 125)
Marxist class analysis has been a subject of criticism internationally as well as nationally. Goldthorpe and Marshall claim that “Orthodox Marxist sociologists perceive social classes as the most important source of all social inequalities. Proponents of this kind of class analysis claim that class conflict is the engine of social change.” (Paraphrased by Guveli, 2007, p. 13) According to Petras, the post-Marxists attack the Marxist notion of class analysis from various perspectives. Firstly, they claim that the Marxist notion of class analysis “obscures the equal or more significant importance of cultural identities (gender, ethnicity)”. According to them, class analysts are “economic reductionists" and they fail “to explain gender and ethnic differences within classes.”. Secondly, they claim that “class is merely an intellectual construction, it is essentially a subjective phenomenon that is culturally determined.” Thirdly, they argue that “there have been vast transformations in the economy and society that have obliterated the old class distinctions.” (1998).
Emphasis on social class, however, does not mean that non-class aspects are neglected in Marxist class analysis. It should be noted that “all class analyses recognize that class is not the only aspect of society or of individual identity; non-class aspects are always part of class analyses” (Resnick and Wolff, 2003, p. 24-25), such as gender, ethnicity and race. As Petras argues “Marxists have never denied the importance of racial, gender and ethnic divisions within classes. What they have emphasised, however, is the wider social system which generates these differences and the need to join class forces to eliminate these inequalities at every point: work, neighborhood, family.” It should be emphasised that “contrary to what the post-Marxists argue, the transformations of capitalism have made class analysis more relevant than ever.” (1998)
(1) “… Economists usually exclude time from the human capital definition because it does not reside within the human mind or body, as do the other elements….” (Davenport, 1999, p. 21)
(2) I have borrowed the term “class resources” from Lamont and Molnár (2002, p. 172).
(3) Marx did not provide ready-to-use or exclusive definition of social class that is deployable in every situation
(4) Max Weber defined social class as “a phenomenon which operates independently of the individual’s perception of his situation, since it is given in the structure of the market.” (Giddens,1977, p. 80)
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