Monash University
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Ingenious communities: Catholic parishes in Australia as creators of social capital and religious social goods

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posted on 2017-01-15, 23:50 authored by Dixon, Robert Edward
This thesis tests a theoretical model of Catholic parishes that sees parishes as generators and repositories of social capital. The thesis uses a modified version of a comprehensive model of social capital developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in which a distinction is made between social capital itself, understood as network qualities, structures and transactions, and its effects or outcomes. The thesis proposes that aspects of a parish’s social capital can be measured by certain qualities of healthy churches identified by the (Australian) National Church Life Survey project (NCLS). The Core Qualities can be calculated from 67,000 responses by church attenders in a national random sample of 231 Catholic parishes that took part in the 2006 NCLS. These Core Qualities are identified as what Stolz has called religious social goods, and they are proposed in this thesis as a means by which social capital is produced and consumed. The central analytical component of the thesis is an investigation of the relationship between the level of social capital as measured by the Core Qualities, and selected outcomes of social capital, such as higher attendance, higher attendance rate, or greater levels of parish involvement by attenders. Attention is also given to the question of how much impact contextual factors such as location and the demographic composition of the Catholic population of the parish have on the generation of social capital outcomes.


Principal supervisor

Gary Donald Bouma

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Social Sciences (Monash Australia)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts