The emergence of social capital in low-income Latino elementary schools
Megan N. Shoji, Anna R. Haskins, David E. Rangel, and Kia N. Sorensen
Scholars suggest that racial/ethnic and class disparities in school-based social capital contribute to educational inequalities. Previous studies demonstrate that social capital (relations of trust, mutual expectations, and shared values) between parents and schools supports children’s development. Yet we know little about the emergence of social capital, that is, the processes through which it develops. In this study, we explore mechanisms of social capital emergence in predominantly low-income Latino school communities. We draw data from an experimental study that manipulated social capital through an after-school family engagement program. Based on interviews and focus groups with participating parents, teachers, and program staff in two elementary schools, we identified four types of interactions that act as mechanisms of social capital emergence: (1) responsive communication; (2) reciprocal communication; (3) shared experiences; and (4) institutional linkage. the article connects these mechanisms to theoretically linked sources of social capital and discusses implications for theory and practice.
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