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Banking on Families: How Families Generate and Distribute Social Capital


Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299 (


Before we can determine the relevance of social capital to the sociology of family and kinship, we must fill the gaps in our theoretical knowledge. For example, we still do not know how couples, parents, children, and groups generate, accumulate, manage, and deploy social capital. Neither do we know the consequences of social capital for the welfare of families and their individual members. To investigate these areas, we must replace the makeshift measures currently in use with measures that do not confuse social capital with the presumed consequences of access to same. With this attention to theoretical elaboration and careful measurement, we will discover whether the idea of social capital is fruitful or merely decorative.