Social capital in theory and practice


This report explores the use of social capital theory in understanding educational advantage/disadvantage from a public policy development perspective. Following a detailed review and critique of social capital theory and contextualizing these in a public policy and development environment, the study explores the social capital of business and IT students in higher education and vocational education and technology (VET) in Victoria.

The project's initial aim was to gain an understanding of the contribution of business and IT courses to the social capital of their students, and to understand how students' social networks contribute to their studies and the choices they make, as well as the obstacles and opportunities their social networks provide for them. 

A secondary aim emerged as the study progressed: to test the notion of social capital at the theoretical level and to understand its utility in a public policy environment through a review of the academic and political literature. Ultimately the project found that the understanding of social capital used in such settings is frequently inadequate and superficial

Download report

Emmaline Bexley, Simon Marginson and Leesa Wheelahan (LHMartin Institute)
Funded by
Australian Research Council Linkage Grant and was funded in part by the Office of Higher Education of the Department of Education and Training, Victorian Government