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Title: A city of good neighbours : students' access to, and activation of, social capital in the Buffalo public schools
Author: Barrett, B. D.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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This dissertation aims (a) to examine the distribution of social capital across a representative sample of six public high schools, and between subgroups of students within them, in Buffalo, New York and (b) to explore the processes by which social capital resources are accessed and activated by students there in pursuit of educational objectives. Chapter Five contains quantitative analysis and discussion of results linked to the social capital surveys completed by students in the sample. As is true in past research (Lopez, 1996; Putnam, 2000; Israel et al.; Dika and Singh, 2002), multivariate analysis finds social capital to have a positive influence on educational achievement. Socio-economic status, however, is clearly demonstrated to be the most significant determinant of students’ levels of social capital and the higher the socio-economic status of a student, the more social capital he or she is likely to possess. While Chapter Five demonstrates the access to social capital is constrained for many students due to economic and structural forces in Buffalo, Chapters Six and Seven draw on qualitative analysis to explore the various ways in which disadvantaged students do utilise social capital resources instrumental to educational achievement. Context proves important here, as the processes by which social capital is accessed and activated appear to vary from school to school and setting to setting. Emphasis is placed on students’ establishment of caring relations with teachers and staff at school, the positive educational role played by various religious and community groups for students in Buffalo, and the function of parents and siblings in supporting students in the study. The establishment of information networks and the normative reinforcement, mediated again by context, which many of these relationships entail are conceptualised within a social capital framework and shown to be especially important in ensuring the academic success of students. Conclusions are offered as to how these social capital resources might be most effectively fostered in the unique and localised context of the Buffalo Public Schools.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available