The dynamics of social capital and health

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Tiziana Lavalle
Charles Damimola Omosebi
Robert H. Desmarteau


social capital, social stability, social influence on health


In the wake of Robert Putnam’s arrival in Italy to study regionalization, this review of the literature on social capital aimed to establish whether current knowledge, social or socio-anthropological research have yielded new findings on how social capital is built and maintained or developed in a community and to what extent this influences social well-being. This is particularly important for those working in the health sector to make sure that health-related decision-making and behaviour foster rather than destroy the development of social capital. Our literature search was based on specific articles published in scientific journals in the humanist, managerial and medical fields, book titles or subtitles containing references to “social capital or social cooperation or reciprocity”. Our findings led us to the conclusion that a complex series of coordinated actions are required for social capital to develop and that, once developed, social capital has a positive impact on social relations, economic results and social stability. In addition, we understood why it is useful to retain three stages, conditioning, development and capitalization, in modelling the development of social capital. Conditioning requires transparency, pragmatism and long-term vision. Development and capitalization require the predominant variables to be chosen. The development of social capital is part of a good strategy for health promotion and prevention.


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