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Validity of a Social Capital Measurement Tool in Vietnam

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Although there are now several instruments available to measure social capital in a quantitative manner, very few of them have been validated, and no published study has examined respondents' interpretation of the meaning of the questions. This article represents one of the first attempts to measure the validity of a quantitative social capital instrument. Young Lives is a study that includes quantitative measures of caregivers' social capital using the Short Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool (Short A-SCAT). Vietnamese respondents' interpretations of questions on social capital were compared to the original intended meaning of the questions and to fieldworkers' interpretations. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two interpreters who were involved in translating the original questionnaire from English to Vietnamese, two supervisors and six interviewers. In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 female caregivers similar to the original respondents. Key concepts in social capital, like trust and sense of belonging, were interpreted similarly by all actors. Support was perceived narrowly by caregivers (limited to money and goods). Most problems arose from changes originating from translation from English to Vietnamese and by the changing nature of local political structures and how one refers to them. Overall validity appeared fairly high with a "correct interpretation" rate of 77 percent. There is now a valid tool for quickly and cheaply assessing social capital in a quantitative manner in Vietnam.


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