Assisting young people's access to social capital in contemporary families: a qualitative study

Seaman, P. and Sweeting, H. (2004) Assisting young people's access to social capital in contemporary families: a qualitative study. Journal of Youth Studies, 7(2), pp. 173-190. (doi: 10.1080/1367626042000238703)

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This study uses the accounts of parents supplemented by those of their children (aged 13-17) to develop understanding of the role of families in the production and garnering of social capital. In doing so, it draws on J. S. Coleman's hypotheses about the impact of single-parent households, parental work, siblings, and links between parents in different families on the social capital available to young people. The data suggest that non-traditional family forms do not necessarily represent deficits in social capital, but rather may actively utilize alternative supportive factors and structures via family processes and network associations not identified by Coleman. Material circumstances may be a greater constraint on access to social capital than family form. In addition, rather than representing a passive drain, young people can be identified as a resource in the development of community level social capital. Neighbourhood and community, together with links (networks) and understandings between families, are important in the task of parenting. These results suggest that Coleman's formulation of social capital reflects neither the reality of contemporary family life nor the agency of young people. However, his identification of the importance of between-family links may benefit future studies of social capital, parenting and the transition to adulthood.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Seaman, Dr Peter and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Seaman, P., and Sweeting, H.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Youth Studies

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