Social Capital and Resilience: A Review of Concepts and Selected Literature Relevant to Aboriginal Youth Resilience Research





Social capital, as an asset or a resource for resilience, can be a characteristic of the community or the individual. As an individual asset, social capital consists of a person’s relationships to available social resources. As a characteristic of communities, it consists of attributes such as trust, reciprocity, collective action, and participation. Closely related to community social capital is the concept of collective efficacy. Some social networks, however, can be violent, repressive, bigoted, or otherwise destructive.

Resilience is also a characteristic of both individuals and communities. This means that the relationship between social capital and resilience is four-dimensional. In discussing each of these dimensions, we highlight the ability of resilience research to link evidence on community social capital with individual data and the recognition that individuals can be resilient even if the communities they live in have low or even negative social capital.

* Acknowledgments: The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable support and advice provided by Dr. Neil Andersson throughout the preparation of this article. We also thank the editors of Pimatisiwin and the anonymous reviewers whose comments contributed considerably to the final version.

Recommendations for future research include greater attention to the social capital potential of Aboriginal spirituality, more comparison of urban-rural differences in social capital, and a better understanding of the factors that underlie Aboriginal youth resilience where social capital is defective.

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