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The role of social capital in job searching of young unemployed persons


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Čarapina Zovko, Ivona. (2019). The role of social capital in job searching of young unemployed persons. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Psychology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije) [mentor Maslić Seršić, Darja].

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Introduction. Authors from different areas defined social capital in different ways, but they all have one thing in common. It is basically an asset in social networks that subject has. These social relations separate social from other types of capital (eg. economic, cultural, educational) because its availability depends on relation and not on the characteristics of the actors themselves who own this capital. There are also different dimensions of social capital like structural and cognitive social capital. Structural covers processes, rules and procedures that relate to group or organizational co-operation through social networks. It is described through the configuration of the network to which we belong and the size and scope of the resources available within the same. There is small number of research that were focused on network characteristics and employment outcomes of young people. Some of network characteristics are network size, strength of ties and status of actors in the network. The size of the network is defined as the total number of people with whom the individual is connected, and the strength of the relationship as the closeness of the social relationship between the individual and the other person in the network. Close friends and relatives are an example of strong relationships, while seldom contacted acquaintances represent weak relationships that are socially, emotionally and often physically distant. Status of actors is defined as the educational, employment and economic status of those who make the personal network of individuals. There are a lot of difficulties that young people experience in the transition between education and work. One of them is job searching and getting employment. In today’s job market, university graduates are becoming numerous and vulnerable group without appropriate job after their studies. Framework of the present study is based on Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory (COR). The basic tenet of COR theory is that people have an innate as well as a learned drive to create, foster, conserve, and protect the quality and quantity of their resources. Many things could be conceived as resources, but COR theory relates to those resources that are key to survival and well-being (e.g., shelter, attachment to significant others, self-esteem), or that are linked to the process of creating and maintaining key resources (e.g., money, credit). Work is an important life domain that acts to provide resources directly related to our primary resources. According to the COR theory, social capital is assumed to be a valued and important resource. Latent deprivation theory (Jahoda, 1982, 1997) proposes that employment is important because it provides certain unique benefits. The aim of the research is to examine a relationship between social network characteristics and job search success of university-graduated young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and further, to examine changes in social network characteristics due to employment status. Methodology: Graduates from different public faculties in Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in a 3 - wave longitudinal study with N = 743 at T1 to N = 303 at T3. Combining the samples of T1, T2 and T3, the longitudinal sample comprised of N = 303 graduates who participated in all three waves of the data collection (78 % females, 55 % unemployed) with average age 24 years (M = 24.50; SD = 3.37). They were surveyed immediately after receiving diploma and followed up six months and one year after graduating. Data collection lasted from May 2015 to October 2016. Various socio-demographic characteristics of the graduates as well as self-reported personal network characteristics – composition and structure, were in focus. We assessed social network characteristics as a size of network, strenght of tie and tie status. Respondents had to indicate their agreement on a 5-point Social network characteristics scale to 10 statements like ,,I know a lot of people who might help me find a job“ (size of network α=0.79), ,,Most people who might help me find a job are people I know very well, such as family or friends“ (strenght of tie α=0.81) and ,,Most people who might help me find a job have received a good education“ (tie status α=0.76). Job search intensity and employment status were measured in the follow up by the general question about the frequency of job search ,,How often do you actively search for a job“ and six questions related to the frequency of specific search methods. Employment status was dichotomous measure; either unemployed or employed at every wave of the study. Dataset were collected online. In every wave, three participiants who were choosen randomly got a financial reward for participation. To check whether there was systematic drop out of respondents between the waves, a t-test was conducted. All participiants were compared on the variables meausred in first wave. Those who participated in second wave had a shorter study length, lower scores on size and strengths of network compared to those who didn't participated. The magnitude of the effects of these differences, expressed by Cohen's d were low (0.15-0.17). Given that the observed differences were low we can conclude that they didn't affect the systematic drop out of respodents. Respondents who participated in the third wave of the survey and those who had droped out did not differ significantly on any variable measured at the second wave of the survey. Results and discussion. According to multiple regression analyses, the socioeconomic status of an individual is predictor of his own social network: the average material income is a positive predictor of the size of the network, and the average material income and father's employment are a positive predictors of the status of the actors to whom the graduates can rely upon when seeking their first job. Studied socioeconomic characteristics of graduates explain between 2.8 % and 3.45 % of individual differences in the experience of social capital. The studied socioeconomic characteristics of the graduates were not related to the experience of the strenght of the tie. Logistic regressions revealed that socio-demographic characteristics of the graduates as well as their job search intensity were no significant predictors of employment status six months or one year after entering the labor market. However, personal social network variables were significant predictors: personal network composition, i.e., social status of acquaintances and strength of ties were significant predictors of job search success half year after entering the labor market. Contrary to our expectations, size of personal network, as an indicator of network structure, was no significant predictor of employment status in the period of one year after graduation. We also estimated a model where the mediator – social capital, i.e., network characteristics (network size, tie strength and tie status) are located at Time 2, as this allowed us to test for the relationship between job search intensity at Time 2 and employment outcomes in third wave. Social capital wasn't moderator between job search intensity and employment outcomes. According to the ANOVAS, changes in size of network, strenght of tie, tie status and job search intensity among unemployed and employed during the time are tested. As expected, employed graduates reported having larger social networks, with stronger ties and more important connections during the study. Job search intensity of unemployed didn't significantly differ during the time. Conclusion. The research results have theoretical and practical implications which are reflected in the clarification of the role of social capital on the employment, especially of young highly educated people who are in the labor market which is characterised with high unemployment rate. As quality and quantity of social contacts relate to a successful job search, the process of gaining and losing social capital, as resource according to the COR theory, may be crucial for the understanding of differences in career success among people of comparable human capital characteristics. The study integrates the latent deprivation model with conservation of resources theory in explaining the individual meaning of unemployment. This is the first study that addresses influence and consequences of lacking of social capital in job searching at university graduates in context of Bosnia and Herzegovina and wider region with a longitudinal design.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: unemployment, social capital, social networks, highly educated, graduates, job searching, COR, latent deprivation
Subjects: Psychology > Psihologija rada i ergonomija
Psychology > Socijalna psihologija
Departments: Department of Psychology
Supervisor: Maslić Seršić, Darja
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 06:12
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2020 00:15

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