This study examines how bridging social capital affects attitudes toward immigrants in the U.S. Bridging social capital, a term which refers to social capital across heterogeneous groups of people beyond inner circles, might play an important role in understanding people's way of perceiving difference and diversity. Also, considering the inequality of social capital for racial minorities in the U.S., it is important to examine how race and bridging social capital intersects each other and its impact on attitude towards immigrants. Thus, this study examines whether the impact of bridging social capital on attitude towards immigrants varies by different racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
The analysis was based on the 2006 U.S. Social Capital Community Survey (SCCS) data set. The study sample size is 11,863 in the U.S. and the multiple imputation was used to deal with the missing cases. A multinomial regression analysis and a heterogeneous choice model were conducted in order to examine the moderating effect of race on the relationships between bridging social capital and attitude toward immigrants.
The findings indicate that people who have a higher level of bridging social capital are more likely to hold favorable attitudes toward immigrants. Bridging social capital is operationalized by generalized trust, trust towards others who are different, and diversity in personal networks. First of all, all bridging social capital significantly affects attitudes toward immigrants. Regarding the moderating effect of race, we found a statistically significant interaction effect. Specifically, the positive association between ‘trust towards others who are different’ and attitudes toward immigrants varied across racial groups: the positive effect becomes weaker for African-Americans and Other races, compared to Whites.
Discussion and Implications:
This study found that higher bridging social capital is associated with favorable attitudes toward immigrants. This finding provides important knowledge for understanding public attitudes toward immigrants in relation to bridging social capital. Moreover, we found that racial minorities are less likely to benefit from bridging social capital. This finding on the inequality of social capital returns among minorities demonstrates the deep-rooted structural racial discrimination toward racial minorities in American society. This study calls special attention to understand the intersectionality of racial inequalities and social capital.