Social capital, social integration and political participation of young Canadians

Zenaida R. Ravanera, University of Western Ontario

Studies point to the role of ethnic civic community on political participation; that is, the greater the civic community involvement (a measure of social capital), the greater is the political participation. In this paper we expand the hypothesis linking social capital and political participation on two fronts: we explore whether family social capital has similar effect as the affiliation to ethnic group and, we examine whether social capital affects not only political participation but also the social dimension of integration. Using the data from the Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada in 2002, we examine the relation between ethnic and family social capital on experience of discrimination, sense of belonging to the wider society, and voting in federal election. We focus on young Canadians aged 15 to 34, and do separate analysis for all young Canadians, all visible minorities, and for Blacks, Chinese, and South Asians. In general, family social capital (measured as trust and sense of belonging to family) is positively related to integration and political participation. As for membership in organizations, the results show contrasting effects. Membership in ethnic and sports organizations increases one’s sense of belonging to the wider society, and members of organizations are more likely to vote. In contrast, for visible minorities, the proportion reporting discrimination is higher among members than non-members of all types of organizations.

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Presented in Session 74: Integration Processes Of Migrants