Focusing on children and youth: The role of social capital in educational outcomes in the context of immigration and diversity

  • Yvonne Hébert
  • Xiaohong Shirley Sun
  • Eugene Kowch


Social capital matters for young people, especially for immigrant and minority youth; however what counts as social capital for young people is poorly specified. This paper reviews recent studies on the influences of parents, communities and schools; then focuses on youth social networks that begin to reveal how young people form, develop and use social capital. In light of this knowledge base, we address social and educational policy-making, making suggestions for capacity building for future policy and research. We conclude with recommendations toward a model of social capital accumulation.

Key words

Social capital Youth Diversity Immigration Educational outcomes Family Community 


Le capital social importe pour les jeunes, surtout pour les jeunes immigrés et minoritaires; cependant, ce qui compte en tant que capital social pour les jeunes a été très peu spécifié. Ce papier fait la recension des études récentes sur les influences des parents, des communautés et des écoles, pour ensuite mettre l’accent sur les réseaux sociaux qui commencent à révéler comment les jeunes gens forment, développent et utilisent le capital social. À la base de ce savoir, nous nous adressons à la formulation des politiques sociales et éducationnelles, offrant quelques suggestions vers la création de capacités pour la politique et la recherche à venir. Nous concluons avec des recommandations portant sur un modèle de l’accumulation du capital social.


Capital social Jeunesse Diversité Résultats scolaires Famille Communauté 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anisef, P., & Kilbride, K.M. (2000). The needs of newcomer youth and emerging “best practices” to meet those needs: Final report. Toronto, ON: Settlement Directorate, Ontario Region, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.Google Scholar
  2. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. (2002). Trends in higher education. Ottawa: Author.Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson, M., & Coleman, W.D. (1996). Policy networks, policy communities and the problems of governance. In L. Dobuzinskis, M. Howlett, & D. Laycock. (Eds.), Policy studies in Canada: The state of the art (pp. 193–213). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bannerii, H. (Ed.). (1993). Returning the gaze: Essays on racism, feminism and politics. Toronto, ON: Sister Vision Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bannerji, H. (2000). The dark side of the nation: Essays on multiculturalism, nationalism and gender. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bellamy, A. (1990). Le retard scolaire des enfonts d’origine haïtienne du niveaux primaire. Mémoire de maîtrise en éducation. Montréal, UQAM.Google Scholar
  7. Bernhard, J.K., Torres, F., Nirdosh, S., & Freire, M. (1999). Latin Americans in a Canadian primary school: Perspectives of parents, teachers and children on cultural identity and academic achievement. Canadian Journal of Regional Studies/Revue canadienne des sciences régionales, 20(12), 217–237.Google Scholar
  8. Berti, C., Hébert, H., Lee, W.-S.J., & Afatsawo, C.K. (2003, March). Life stories of Canadian immigrant youth: Evidence of emotional competence. Paper presented at the 6th National Metropolis Conference, Edmonton.Google Scholar
  9. Beynon, J.D., Toohey, K., & Kishor, N. (1998). Do visible minority students of Chinese and South Asian ancestry want teaching as a career? Perceptions of some secondary school students in Vancouver, B.C. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 30(2), 50–72.Google Scholar
  10. Blau, P. (1974). Parameters of social structure. American Sociological Review, 39(5), 615–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bourdieu, P. (1977a). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In J. Karabel & H.J. Halsey (Eds.), Power and ideology in education (pp. 487–511). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bourdieu, P. (1977b). Outline of a theory of practice (R. Nice, Trans.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J.G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  15. Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason: On the theory of action. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  16. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.C. (1977c). Reproduction in education, society and culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Bynner, J. (2000). British youth transitions in comparative perspective. Journal of Youth Studies, 4(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carrasco, P., Rose, D., & Charbonneau, J. (1999). La constitution de liens faibles: une passerelle pour l’adaptation des immigrantes centro-américaines mères de jeunes enfants à Montréal. Études ethniques au Canada/Canadian Ethnic Studies, 31 (1), 73–91.Google Scholar
  19. Cibulka, J.G. (1999). Ideological lenses for interpreting political and economic changes affecting schooling. In J. Murphy & K. Seashore-Lewis (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Administration (pp. 163–183). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Cohen, P., & Ainley, P. (2000). In the country of the blind: Youth studies and cultural studies in Britain. Journal of Youth Studies, 3(1), 35–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coleman, J.S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94 (supplement), S95-S120.Google Scholar
  22. Coleman, J.S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Coleman, J.S. (1997). Family, school, and social capital. In L.J. Saha (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the socociology of education (pp. 623–625). Oxford, UK: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  24. Coleman, J.S., & Hoffer, T. (1987). Public and private high schools: The impact of communities. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Coleman, W.D., & Skogstad, G. (1990). Policy communities and public policy in Canada. Toronto, ON: Copp Clark.Google Scholar
  26. Cotterell, J. (1996). Social networks and social influences in adolescence. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Cunningham, F. (2002). Theories of democracy: A critical introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Do Nascimento, A.G.F., & Lefebvre, M.L. (1999). Le poids de la mobilité professionnelle dans le statut socio-économique des familles migrantes et dans la performance scolaire de leurs enfants. Études ethniques au Canada/Canadian Ethnic Studies, 31(1), 26–42.Google Scholar
  30. Eisler, L., & Schissel, B. (in press). Privation and vulnerability to victimization for Canadian youth: The contexts of gender, race, and geography. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice: An Interdisciplinary Journal.Google Scholar
  31. Germezy, N., Masten, A.S., & Tellegen, A. (1984). The study of stress and competence in children: A building block for developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 97–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gauthier, M. (2000). L’âge des jeunes: un fait social instable. Lien social et Politiques, Voir les jeunes autrement, 43, 23–32.Google Scholar
  33. Gauthier, M., & Pacom, D (Eds.). (2001). Spotlight on Canadian youth research. Sainte-Foy, QC: Les éditions de l’IQRC, Les presses de l’Université Laval.Google Scholar
  34. Germain, A. (2003, Novembre). Capital social et vie associative de quartier en contexte multiethnique: Quelques réflexions à partir de recherches montréalaises. Revue de l’intégration et de la migration internationale, 5(2), 191–206.Google Scholar
  35. Gibson, M. (1991). Minorities and schooling: Some implications. In M. Gibson & J. Ogbu (Eds.), Minority status and schooling: A comparative study of immigrant and involuntary minorities. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  36. Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78 (6), 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological Theory, 1, 201–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hagan, J.M. (1998). Social networks, gender, and immigrant incorporation: Resources and restraints. American Sociological Review, 63(1), 55–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hagan, J., Dinovitzer, R., & Parker, P. (2003). Choice and circumstance: Social capital and planful competence in the attainment of the “one-and-a-half” generation. Retrieved January 21, 2003 from: Scholar
  40. Hagan, J., MacMillan, R., & Wheaton, B. (1996). New kid in town: Social capital and the life course effects of family migration on children. American Sociological Review, 61(3), 368–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hao, L., & Bonstead-Bruns, M. (1998). Parent-child differences in educational expectations and the academic achievement of immigrant and native students. Sociology of Education. 71, 175–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Healy, T., & Côté, S. (2001). The well-being of nations: The role of human and social capital. Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD). (With significant input from John F. Helliwell (UBC), Simon Field, and many others in the OECD Secretariat.) Published in French under the title Du bien-être des nations: Le rôle du capital humain et social.Google Scholar
  43. Hébert, Y., Desbiens, D., & Sun, X.S. (2000). Sigmposts for youth: Final evaluation report. Report prepared for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Human ResourcesGoogle Scholar
  44. Hébert, Y., Lee, W.-S. J., Sun, X.S., & Berli, C. (2003, October). Canadian citizenship and national identity: Forns of local attachment among youth. Paper presented at the Conference on lifelong Citizenship Learning, Participatory Democracy, and Social Change: Local and Global Perspectives, organized by the Transformation Learning Centre, OLSE, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  45. Hébert, Y., Lee, W.-S. J., Sun, X.S., & Berti, C. (2004). Relational citizenship as social capital: Immigrant youth’s mental maps of their friendships. encounters in Education.Google Scholar
  46. Hébert, Y., & Racicot, C. (2000, March). Hanging out in Western Canada: Immigrant youth construction of self. Paper presented at the Metropolis Education Research Forum, 4th National Metropolis Conference, Toronto.Google Scholar
  47. Hébert, Y.M., & Racicot, C. (2001). Relations identitaires et citovennes à l’école dans l’Ouest canadien. Dans M. Pagé, F. Ouellet et L. Cortesao (dir.), L’éducation à la citoyenneté. Sherbrooke, QC: Association mondiale des sciences de l’éducation et Éditions du CRP.Google Scholar
  48. Holland, R. (2001). (Re) presenting Canadian youth: Challenge or opportunity? In M. Gauthier & D. Pacom (Eds.), Spotlight on Canadian youth research. Les editions de l’IQRC. Sainte-Foy, QC: Les Presses de l’Université Laval.Google Scholar
  49. Human Resources Development Canada. (2002). Youth employment initiatives: Terms and conditions for grants and contributions. Retrieved July 21, 2002 from: http://www Conditions/yei.aspGoogle Scholar
  50. Jay, M. (1977). L’imagination dialectique. Paris: Payot.Google Scholar
  51. Judge, R. (2002). Immigration and social cohesion. Horizons, 5(2), 1–2.Google Scholar
  52. Judge, R. (2003). Social capital: Building on a network-based approach. Draft Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative Project on Social Capital as a Public Policy Tool. Excerpt in Horizons. 6(3) 7–12.Google Scholar
  53. Kelly, J. (1998a). Experiences with the white man: Black student narratives. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 30(2), 95–111.Google Scholar
  54. Kelly, J. (1998b). Under the gaze: Learning to be Black in white society. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.Google Scholar
  55. Kilbride, K.M. (2000). A review of the literature on the human, social and cultural capital of immigrant children and their families with implications for teacher education. Available: http: // Scholar
  56. Kilbride, K.M., & Anisef, P. (2001). To build on hope: Overcoming the challenges facing newcomer youth at risk in Ontario. Report to the Ontario Administration of Settlement and Integration Services of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.Google Scholar
  57. Kilbride, K.M., & Anisef, P. (Eds.). (2003). Managing two worlds, Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press.Google Scholar
  58. Kowch, E.G. (2003). Policy networks and communities in three Western Canada universities: Neoinstitutional responses to a pan-institutional issue. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Saskatchewan.Google Scholar
  59. Laperrière, A., & Dumont, P. (in press). Les représentations de la citoyenneté chez les finissants du secondaire de deux écoles montréalaises. In Y.H. Hébert and A. Laperrière (Eds.) Citizenship education and identity: Canadian and international perspectives.Google Scholar
  60. Laperrière, A., Compère, L., D’Khissy, M., Dolce, R. & Fleurant, N. (1994). Mutual perceptions and interethnic strategies among French, Italian and Haitian adolecents of a multiethnic school in Montréal. Journal of Adolescent Research, 9(2), 193–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lareau, A. (1987). Social class differences in family-school relationship: The importance of cultural capital. Sociology of Education, 60(2), 73–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lareau, A., & Horvat, E.M. (1999). Moments of social inclusion and exclusion: Race, class, and cultural capital in family-school relationships. Sociology of Education, 72, 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Lareau, A., & Shumar, W. (1996). The problem of individualism in family-school policies. Sociology of Education, 69(supplement), 24–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Lee, W.-S.J., & Hébert, H. (2003, May). The meaning of being Canadian: A comparison between 1st generation and non-immigrant youth in Calgary. Paper presented at the 4th International CERN Forum, Dalhousie University. Halifax, annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada (CIESC), the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, (CSSE).Google Scholar
  65. Lee, W.-S.J., Hébert, H. Parel, R., & Racicot, C. (2001, May). Learning to read, spatiality, and strategic competence of immigrant youth in Western Canadian high schools. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada (CIESC), the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) at Université Laval, Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities and paper for the graduate seminar.Google Scholar
  66. Luthar, S.S., & Cicchetti, D. (2000). The construct of resilience: Implications for interventions and social policy. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 857–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ly, T. (2002, fall). Tutoring and its impact on the identity of the Vietnamese community. Paper presented at the HDER 655. 05 Culture, Identity and Schooling, University of Calgary.Google Scholar
  68. Marjoribanks, K. (2002). Family and school capital: Towards a context theory of students’ school outcomes. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  69. Massey, D. (1998). The spatial construction of youth cultures. In T. Skelton, & G. Valentine (Eds.) Cool places: Geographies of youth cultures. London and new York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  70. Masten, A.S., Best, K.M., & Garmezy, H. (1990). Resilience and development: Contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 425–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. McAndrew, M., Pagé, M., Jodoin, M., & Lemire, F. (1999). Dersité ethnique et intégration sociale des élèves d’origine immigrante au Québed. Études ethniques au Canada/Canadian Ethnic Studies. 31(1), 5–25.Google Scholar
  72. McClelland, K (1990). Cumulative disadvantage among the highly ambitious. Sociology of Education, 63, 102–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Mitchell, C., & Sckney, L (2000). Profound improvement: Building capacity for a learning community, Lisse: Swets & ZeitlingerGoogle Scholar
  74. Morgan, S.L., & Sorenson, A.B. (1999). Parental networks, social slosure and mathematics learning: A test of Coleman’s social capital explanation of school effects. American Sociological Review, 64, 694–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Morrow, V. (1999). Conceptualising social capital in relation to the well-being of children and young people: A critical review. Sociological Review, 47(4), 744–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Nangle, D.W., & Erdley, C.A. (Eds.), (2001). The role of friendship in psychological adjustment. No. 91, of the series New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  77. Ochocka, J., Janzen, R., Anisef, P., & Kilbride, K.M. (2001). Study on parenting issues of newcomer families in Ontario. Kitchener, ON: Centre for Research and Education in Human Services (CREHS); and Toronto: Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS) Google Scholar
  78. Pacom, D. (1980). Vers une nouvelle théorie critique du social-historique dans les sociétés modernes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
  79. Pacom, D. (2001). Beyond positivism: A theoretical evaluation of the sociology of youth. In M. Gauthier & D. Pacom (Eds.), Spotlight on Canadian youth research. Les editions de l’IQRC. Sainte-Foy: Les Presses de l’Université Laval.Google Scholar
  80. Pal, L. (1997). Beyond policy analysis: Public issue management in turbulent times. Scarborough, ON, ITP Nelson.Google Scholar
  81. Pattison, P. (1994). Social cognition in context. Some applications of social network analysis. In S. Wasserman & J. Galaskiewicz (Eds.), Advances in social network analysis (pp. 79–113). Thousand Oaks, CA: SageGoogle Scholar
  82. Paxton, P. (1999). Is social capital declining in the United States? A multiple indicator assessment. American Journal of Sociology, 105(1), 88–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Pescolido, B.A. (1992). Beyond rational choice: The social dynamics of how people seek help. American Journal of Sociology, 97(4), 1096–1138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Pittman, K., Diversi, M., & Ferber, T. (2002). Social policy supports for adolescence in the twenty-first century: Framing questions. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 12(1), 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Policy Research Initiative. (2003). Social capital. Retrieved April. 4, 2003 from: wyswyg://31//http: // Scholar
  86. Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Putnam, R.D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6, 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Putnam, R.D. (2001). Social capital: Measurement and consequences. Isuma, 2(1), 41–51.Google Scholar
  89. Racicot, C., & Hébert, Y. (2000, May). The enactment of friendship in identity formation among immigrant youth as forms of citizenship. Paper presented at the 2nd National Forum of the Citizenship Education Research Network, Post-Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Edmonton.Google Scholar
  90. Raffo, C., & Reeves, M. (2000). Youth transitions and social exclusion: Developments in social capital theory. Journal of Youth Studies 3(2), 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Rioux, M. (1978). Essai de sociologic critque. Montréal, QC: Hurtubise.Google Scholar
  92. Schissel, B., & Wotherspoon, T. (2002). The legacy of school for Aboriginal peoples: Education, oppression and emancipation, Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Schoon, I., & Bynner, J. (2003). Risk and resilience in the life course: Implications for interventions and social policies. Journal of Youth Studies, 6(1), 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Stanton-Salazar, R.D., & Dornbusch, S.M. (1995). Social capital and the reproduction of inequality: Information networks among Mexican-origin high school students. Sociology of Education, 68(23), 116–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Statistics Canada. (2002). Youth in transition survey 2000. The Daily: Wednesday, January 23, Full test available from: htm and first results for the 18-to 20-year-old cohrt (81-591-XIE) available free at, and Scholar
  96. Suarez-Orozco, M. (1989). Central American refugees and U.S. high schools: A psychological study of motivation and achievement. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  97. Sun, X.S. (2003, October). Evidence of the accumulation of social capital: Signposts for youth. Paper presented at the 17th Biennial Conference of the Canadian Ethnic Studies Association, Banff.Google Scholar
  98. Wall, E., Ferrazzi, G., & Schryer, F. (1998). Getting the goods on social capital. Rural Sociology, 63(2), 300–322.Google Scholar
  99. Wang, M.C., & Haertel, B.D. (1995). Educational resilience. In M.C. Wang, M.C. Reynolds, & H.J. Walberg, (Eds.), Handbook of special and remedial education research and practice. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
  100. Wilkinson, L. (2002). Factors influencing the academic success of refugee youth in Canada. Journal of Youth Studies, 5(2), 173–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Woolcock, M. (1999, April). Social capital. The state of the notion. Paper presented at the multidisciplinary seminar on Social Capital: Global and Local Perspectives, Helsinki.Google Scholar
  102. Woolcock, M. (2001). The place of social capital in understanding social and economic outcomes. Isuma, 2(1), 72–81.Google Scholar
  103. Zhou, M., & Bankston III, C. L. (1994). Social capital and the adaptation of the second generation: The case of Vietnamese youth in New Orleans. International Migration Review, 28, (4), 821–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer SBM 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Hébert
    • 1
  • Xiaohong Shirley Sun
    • 1
  • Eugene Kowch
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations