Theory for the Public Good? Social Capital Theory in Social Work Education

  • MaryAnn Overcamp-Martini
Keywords: Social capital theory, social work education, human behavior and the social environment, social capital and mental health, social networks, social work and civic participation


As a concept, social capital is both relatively recent and highly controversial. This analysis overviews the history of social capital theory and the three main theoretical frameworks related to the concept. The components of social capital are discussed, as well as the controversy over its conceptualization. A review of recent studies is provided, particularly in the relationship between social capital and mental health. The article concludes with a discussion regarding the heuristic usefulness of social capital theory in the human behavior and social environment sequence in social work education, opening discourse in civic engagement and participation, collectivity, and the value of social networking.