Twenty Years of Research on Social Capital and Health: What is the Utility for Health Promotion?

Malin Eriksson


Despite the huge amount of research about social capital and health during the last 20 years, the utility of this knowledge for health promotion remains unclear. This article aims to conceptualise social capital in relation to health promotion and to identify what is required for social capital to be used as a resource in health promotion. It suggests that social capital has become an important concept in health promotion but that many challenges remain on how it could be utilised in policy and practice. Social capital does not add any ground-breaking new knowledge in health promotion but complements already existing knowledge within social networks/social support and community development approaches in health promotion. Utilizing social capital in health promotion requires an awareness of power relations and social inequality, as well as the political structures that exist were the intervention take place. There is a need for more systematic explorations of case studies attempting to utilise social capital in health promotion.


social capital; health promotion; social networks; social support; community development;



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