Racism and Social Capital: The Implications for Social and Physical Well-Being


Elizabeth Brondolo, St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY 11439 [e-mail: brondole@stjohns.edu]


Racism can be manifest at the cultural, institutional and individual levels, and can exert effects at the intrapersonal level if targeted individuals internalize attitudes toward their own racial/ethnic groups. The general aim of this article is to examine the ways in which all levels of racism undermine the development of peer relations, one component of social capital; and consequently affect the health and well-being of targeted individuals. The evidence suggests that cultural racism inculcates attitudes that may foster race-related social distancing; institutional racism isolates individuals from the opportunities to develop the skills needed to develop cross race-relations and promotes engagement with peers who exhibit antisocial behavior; interpersonal racism may erode the quality of routine interpersonal exchanges and engender anxiety about interacting with cross-race peers; and internalized racism may undermine the benefits of cross-race peer interactions. To the degree that racism affects the ability to form, maintain and benefit from peer relationships, it can contribute to racial disparities in economic, social and health-related outcomes and undermine the types of social cohesion that promote national unity.