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Social Capital and Communication in Health

Susan Koch-Weser, Kavita Karan and K. Viswanath

Subject Medicine
Communication Studies » Health Communication

Key-Topics health

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The concept of social capital dates back more than 100 years and has intrigued academics, policymakers, and activists interested in understanding intergroup relations and social change in a variety of fields including communication, public health, sociology, and political science ( Portes 1998 ). It has been seen as a promising way to examine how interaction and association among people and groups could influence public health, politics, economics, and overall comity and cohesion among disparate social groups. Despite substantive disagreements about the definition, utility, and appropriate measurement of social capital, there is broad agreement that social capital grows out of relationships between and among individuals and organizations and facilitates social action. Dimensions of social capital are generally understood to include norms of reciprocity, interpersonal trust, solidarity, and cooperation that seem to depend on social networks and civic engagement. Social capital is usually regarded as a positive phenomenon, although it can have negative effects when ties hinder positive action or serve to exclude segments of the population from key resources. Coleman (1988) defined social capital by its function, as a “variety of entities” that facilitate actions by social actors. Social capital helps in explaining different outcomes of actions of individuals as well as connecting ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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