Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Roger Hart

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Social Psychology and Interaction


social capital, children, community, friendship formation, play, social competence


This paper explores the concept of social capital as it relates to children. Three major theorists, Coleman (1988), Putnam (1995), and Bourdieu (1986), offer different conceptualizations of social capital, but all agree that social capital exists within relationships amongst people and allows them to facilitate an action or receive some sort of benefit. Within much of social capital literature, children are mostly viewed as passive recipients of social capital from their parents and teachers, as opposed to being acknowledged as creators of their own social capital. More recent research is starting to recognize the latter and to conceptualize how children, mostly in middle childhood and adolescence, are developing their own social capital in support of the development of community. This paper investigates how sociology research has examined social capital created by children and youth, and merges sociology and psychology research to propose how young children also develop their own social capital through intentional, complex networks of friendships that they actively form and sustain.