Because of persistent economic segregation in this country, people of low socioeconomic background may only have access to those who are in similar economic circumstances as themselves and are thus not in a position to provide bridging or linking capital. Adolescents in low socioeconomic status (SES) households may be at a particular disadvantage in terms of social capital, as they tend to only have access to social capital garnered through their relationships with their parents, parents' network, neighbors and teachers. Low-income adolescents' access to social capital is thus restricted by their economic segregation, the homogeneity of their parents' network, and their limited access to other relationships.
So although we think that the provision of certain forms of social capital may matter in the promotion of social mobility, social workers need to focus more on how to promote these forms of social capital to reduce inequality for adolescents. In this roundtable, participants will discuss how social capital can be used as a means to reduce inequality for young people both from a macro, policy-oriented perspective and micro, practice perspective. The first presenter will discuss the application of social capital theory in the field of social work, and outline some policy positions that may promote specific types of social capital for adolescents vulnerable to the effects of inequality. He wrote a seminal piece on social capital and social work, and has since focused on the specific role of social capital in the lives of disadvantaged populations. The second presenter will discuss the role of parents, particularly fathers, as sources of social capital for their children, the provision of which can reduce SES-based inequalities among adolescents. She is a part of a team using innovative strategies to examine the impact of social policies on fathers' involvement with their children to the end of reducing disparities due to economic inequality. The third presenter will talk about informal mentors, caring non-parental adults, and how they may be able to promote mobility. Her research program is the first to directly examine the potential for informal mentors to provide key types of capital and promote actual economic mobility for adolescents vulnerable to the impacts of inequality. After these short presentations, we will engage attendees in a structured discussion focused on different ways to promote bridging and linking forms of social capital for young people, as a means of reducing the impacts of inequality.