Social capital theory contends that social relationships are essential to one’s well-being and are associated with happiness and belongingness of an individual. Social capital has been used to explain high school dropout, educational inequality, economic growth, and social innovation. This entry presents major social capital theories proposed by Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman, Lin Nan, and Robert Putnam. For each theory, examples of social capital and supporting evidence are provided. Understanding different types of social capital theories may help researchers to identify appropriate theoretical framework to guide their research design.

What Is Social Capital?

Social capital represents a form of capital that produces individual gains and public goods. Unlike human capital (i.e., the knowledge and skills possessed by an individual), social capital generates value through interpersonal relationships, a ...

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