chapter  2
10 Pages

Social Capital: A Lens for Examining Health of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women

WithVirginia Olesen

This chapter examines social capital, widely used in the social sciences and public health, as a perspective to facilitate rethinking the grievous problems to realize change. It attempts to make abstract social science thinking relevant to a pressing human problem, recognizing that the complexity of human affairs often can and does exceed what science conceptualizes. The chapter discusses social capital, its history, dimensions, strengths and weaknesses, to clarify and deconstruct the concept. This sets up a discussion on social capital and health and, more specifically, social capital and health of women during and after incarceration. The chapter notes some implications of social capital for thinking about and acting on these issues. It focuses on individual access and relationship to networks, and resources and associates in networks. Through an examination of the concept of social capital and situation of incarcerated women, the chapter shows how women's health can be productively explored by focusing on importance of networks in realizing social capital.