Because it represents benefits that accrue from many different types of human
interaction, social capital is not easily defined in a single sentence. According to Putnam
(2000) social capital has been defined at least six different ways in the last century (p.19).
Coleman (1988) is perhaps the best known authority on the subject, and in one article he
offered the following description:
Social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity but a variety of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some aspect of social structures, and they facilitate certain actions of actors-whether persons or corporate actors-within the structure. Like other forms of capital, social capital is productive, making possible the achievement of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible (P. S98).
Perna and Titus (2005) “conceptualize parental involvement as a form of social
capital that provides individuals with access to resources that may facilitate college
enrollment” (p.487). For the present study, social capital, or the lack of social capital,
could be related more to family structure because low-income, single-parent families
might have less time available to participate in parent teacher organizations or volunteer
to help at other school functions. Although the Perna and Titus study is different than the
present research because of its focus on the relationship between parental involvement
and college enrollment, it is relevant to this review of literature because it addresses
parental involvement in their children’s academic progress at the high school level.
The Perna and Titus (2005) study generally supports Coleman’s “conceptualization
of parental involvement as a form of social capital that promotes college enrollment by
conveying norms and standards” (pp.507-08). For the variables that closely match those