The Relation Between Social Capital and Health: What do Empirical Studies Show?


JOURNAL OF ECONOMY CULTURE AND SOCIETY, no.57, pp.53-91, 2018 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/jecs413503
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.53-91
  • Keywords: Social capital, cultural health capital, health, SELF-RATED HEALTH, ASSOCIATIONS, COMMUNITY, DEPRESSION, MORTALITY, DYNAMICS
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


As a consequence of neoliberal economy politics, the states began to retreat from providing health services and health systems began to be a part of free markets. This resulted in a focus on individual and societal assets and resources instead of on structural reforms which could improve health. As a result, academic interest in the relationship between social capital and health increased. This study is a critical review article that will examine, summarize, and evaluate the findings and conceptual framework of the empirical studies on the relationship between social capital and health from a critical sociological perspective. Due to the lack of empirical studies on this subject in Turkey, this study also aims to provide a framework for anticipated empirical research in Turkey. The quantitative empirical studies which examine the relationship between social capital and health are mainly based on Putnam's definition due to its convenient exposition of the operationalization process. These studies examine the dimensions and forms of social capital rather than discussing the concept in a holistic manner. The research shows that different dimensions and forms of social capital affect health by creating social support, social influence, social control, social participation, access to material resources, and trust and collective action, which all have more specific consequences on health. Although some forms of social capital may cause negative results on health, it seems that social capital in general has the potential to improve individual and societal health to some extent. Derived from cultural capital, cultural health capital is also an important concept within this topic. As one of the ways to access social capital, cultural health capital operates as a defense mechanism for individuals in certain processes as related to health inequalities.