Social Capital Development in Hispanic Communities

Kathleen G. Westwood, Devyani Chandran*,St. Olaf College

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Abstract This article examines the development and sustainability of social capital in local Hispanic communities. Researchers collaborated with a local organization in a Midwestern state in order to explore the development of social capital programs that serve Hispanic populations in two program sites. This qualitative study examined the development of bonding and bridging social capital in Hispanic communities, identified barriers to the development of social capital in these communities, and made suggestions for improving social capital programs through leadership development, language exchanges, and cultural engagement. Implications are discussed for future planning in local communities that could lead to a smoother integration of migrant populations in local communities.

Introduction Social capital includes the development of trust, norms of reciprocity, and networks that individuals can draw upon for their individual or collective benefit (Coleman, 1988; Jacobs, 1961). Robert Putnam (2000) further expanded the definition of social capital by introducing the concepts of bridging and bonding social capital. Bridging capital or localized capital involves open networks that are outward looking and encompass people across diverse social cleavages. Bridging capital connects communities to organizations and people outside the community. Bonding capital, on the other, hand consists of inward looking networks that tend to reinforce exclusive identities and homogeneous groups (Putnam, 2000).

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