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Cultivating Social Capital through Summer Employment Programs: Perspectives from Youth Participants

By

Suzanne M. McMurphy, PhD, MSS, MLSP
Assistant Professor1

Robert D. Weaver, PhD, MSW
Associate Professor1

Katka Hrncic-Lipovic, MSW
Field Specialist1

Nazim Habibov, PhD, MSW, MSc
Associate Professor1

1School of Social Work, University of Windsor

 

 

Abstract

Significant socio-economic shifts, such as the emergence of the so-called ‘knowledge economy’ have transformed the transition from adolescence to adulthood, as youth are expected to garner a considerable amount of personal, cognitive, social, and educational skills in order to successfully enter adult society and prosper within the market economy. An additional determinant of the successful transition of youth into adult society is the availability of social capital through relationships and networks that can provide access to valuable resources and information and contribute to the development of a social identity. Employment programs are a mechanism for providing youth with workforce exposure and skill development in the absence of market opportunities. These programs are also a potential source of social capital, through the exposure to new environments and the development of relationships and networks that can provide resources that youth may not have access to through traditional means. Using a qualitative approach, we explored the perspectives of youth participants in a summer employment program in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. We propose that the opportunity to develop social capital is an under-recognized benefit of employment programs, and may be a particularly important aspect for disadvantaged youth. 

Keywords:  social capital, youth employment programs, disadvantaged youth, qualitative methods

 

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Over the past several decades, the forces which characterize globalization—such as the convergence of information, communication, and technology—have ushered in the so-called ‘knowledge economy’, in which the need for highly skilled workers is increasing while the demand for lower skilled workers is decreasing, thus rendering the latter at greater risk for both   unemployment and underemployment (Burton-Jones, 1999; Powell & Snellman, 2004). This significant socio-economic shift has dramatically transformed the transition from adolescence to adulthood, as youth are expected to garner a considerable amount of personal, cognitive, social, and educational skills in order to successfully enter adult society and prosper within the market economy (De Grip & Wolbers, 2006; Franke, 2010; Ngai & Ngai, 2007). 

Employment-based training programs are primary mechanisms for providing youth with workforce exposure and skill development in the absence of market opportunities. These employment programs are often targeted toward lower socio-economic youth who are most apt to be excluded from a tight labor market or who are defined as ‘at-risk’ for engaging in activities that might result in social marginalization, involvement in crime, or substance use (Campbell, 1995; Collura, 2010; Loughead, Liu, & Middleton, 1995; Matsuba, Elder, Petrucci, & Marleau, 2008; Robitschek, 1996). Evaluations of employment programs generally focus on the effectiveness of their activities for providing vocational skills, employment readiness, and educational success (Leos-Urbel, 2012). On the other hand, social capital gains—such as developing relationships outside of the youths’ own social network, exposure to employment opportunities in new environments, meeting new people who can introduce alternative career paths, as well as gaining communication skills and the appreciation of maintaining relationships for future networking—are secondary to the main program goals and are less defined, if acknowledged at all (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003).  

Exploring the implications of social capital for youth as a mechanism for inclusion within the labor market is a relatively new research area (Reynolds, 2007). Our paper seeks to contribute to this discussion in exploring how employment programs may provide a mechanism for the acquisition of social capital, particularly for disadvantaged youth. We propose that the acquisition of social capital is an under-recognized benefit of these programs, and may be of particular importance for disadvantaged youth who may have few other avenues to explore new environments and develop the types of interpersonal and professional relationships that can promote their educational and economic mobility. We present our findings from the perspective of youth who have participated in a summer employment program in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, and their assessment of the contribution of their experiences and understanding of social capital for their future goals and aspirations.

Background

Early conceptualizations of social capital focused on the structural advantages of group participation and the “institutionalization of group relations” that benefited those who invested in their membership (Portes, 1998, p. 3). Having access to economic resources through the building of relationships with those that possessed social and cultural privilege was the advantage gained through the development of social capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988). Early theorists emphasized that the acquisition of social capital required time and effort as well as an “unceasing effort of sociability” for the effective development and maintenance of these relationships (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 247). 

Further characterizations of social capital have identified how its manifestation can vary within and across group associations differentiating between ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’ social capital (Putnam, 1995; Putnam, 2000). Bonding social capital is defined as “deeply embedded associations or social networks within particular enclaves or boundaries, such as shared ethnicity, class, religion, and neighborhood” (Weaver, 2011b, p. 419). Bonding social capital is increased with the density of one’s networks with others (friends, families, or groups), resulting in “a greater sense of obligation of group members to each other…a heightened sense of watching out for the group’s best interests” (Laser & Leibowitz, 2009, p. 91). On the other hand, bridging social capital refers to “relationships over social divisions, such as those based on race or class, allowing people to gain assets beyond their usual social groups” (Lockhart, 2005, p. 46). These can include friendship and acquaintances outside of one’s immediate neighborhood and association with people who have access to employment opportunities or educational resources (Ellen & Turner, 1997). A recent variation of social capital has explored its implication for social change through the manifestation of  “empowerment social capital” that incorporates an awareness of the social justice issues related to the distribution and access to resources as well as the structural barriers that prevent economic mobility (Stanton-Salazar, 2011, p. 1085). This form of social capital can act as a mechanism for “counterstratification” where individuals with access to traditional resources and social hierarchies can “alter the destinies” of disadvantaged youth by confronting the individual and structural barriers that prevent them from having the same opportunities as other more privileged youth (Stanton-Salazar, 2011, p. 1086). 

For youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods, the acquisition of social capital through the development of relationships with adults who can introduce them to employment or educational opportunities may be a turning point in their future economic mobility. These relationships may provide them with exposure to greater social resources, which perhaps neither they nor their families have access to (Yan & Lam, 2009, p. 204). The importance of creating opportunities, such as these for disadvantaged youth, is further emphasized through research on social mobility which has found that an individual’s career advancement “is enhanced by having a large, sparse network of informal ties for acquiring information and resources” (Podolny & Baron, 1997, p. 673).

This awareness of a larger community and the skills to engage in this community is also a component of the framework that Schaefer-McDaniel (2004) describes as necessary for the acquisition of social capital for youth. Beginning with their relationships with parents, family members, teachers, as well as other people in the community, youth build social networks and develop a “degree of sociability” in which they form bonds of trust and engage in reciprocal and nurturing relationships with members of their network (Schaefer-McDaniel, 2004, p. 23). Youth develop a sense of belonging/place attachment, which the author referred to an “individual feeling of belonging” and “the degree to which individuals feel they are part of a collective community” (Schaefer-McDaniel, 2004, p. 26). While not traditionally a focus of employment programs, the development of networking skills and the experience of a social identity that can successfully traverse unfamiliar settings, as well as the development of associations with access to resources may be critical benefits of these programs in the form of social capital. Furthermore, if the acquisition of social capital can significantly contribute to youth economic mobility as well as function as a critical component of social change through mutual efforts to confront structural barriers for disadvantaged youth, it is vital to explore potential sources that may not have been previously considered, such as summer youth employment programs. 

Summer Employment Program

In 2007, the Provincial Government of Ontario, Canada introduced the Summer Jobs for Youth Program (SJYP) as part of its Youth Opportunity Strategy (YOS), a province-wide initiative developed to enhance youths’ capacity and propensity for labor market engagement (Banting, 2005; Ministry of Children and Youth Services, 2010). In Southwestern Ontario, the SJYP program was implemented by an urban-based social services agency. The program served youth, ranging from 16 to 19 years of age, who resided in one of the four low-income neighborhoods facing a multitude of barriers, including a lack of access to employment opportunities (Weaver, 2011a). Youth were eligible to participate in the program if they resided in one of the four target neighborhoods and were at risk of greater marginalization as a result of dropping out of high school, prior arrests for delinquent or criminal behavior, previous drug use, or other risk factors. The program’s primary component consisted of a six-week paid employment experience in which the youth participants engaged in full-time work activities for 35 – 40 hours per week. A total of 112 employers provided job placements for the youth; approximately half were located within the private sector and the remainder in government agencies and the non-profit sector. Job placements included food services, health care, social services, and the automotive industry paid at the provincial minimum wage rate, which at that time was $9.50 per hour (Ontario Provincial Labour Board, 2012). Prior to the beginning of their placement, the youth participated in a 20 hour pre-employment session, which included training in areas such as workplace communication and conflict resolution, as well as basic skills in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), First Aid, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

Method

To examine the potential for SJYP to promote the acquisition of social capital, we conducted focus groups with youth participants during a visit to the local university scheduled at the completion of their summer employment program. Participants were recruited through an announcement in the opening session of the day of the tour, and given the times and rooms where the focus groups were being held on the university campus. The focus groups were scheduled between guided tours and organized lectures throughout the afternoon.  Students interested in participating in the focus groups came to one of two rooms where focus groups were being held.  Trained focus group facilitators lead the four focus groups, which included three sets of ‘pile sort’ exercises, and a brief individual survey. Ethics clearance for the study was obtained from the University Research Ethics Board prior to recruitment for the focus groups.

The focus group discussion was divided into three sections: (a) participant assessment of the effectiveness and their satisfaction with the components of the program, (b) the contribution of the program for expanding participants’ relationships and networks as social capital acquisition, and (c) the contribution of the program for enhancing their future career aspirations. The ‘pile sort’ exercises augmented the focus group discussion and were used to gather individual perspectives on specific focus group topics (Hennick, Hutter, & Bailey, 2011). In these pile sort exercises, youth were asked to ‘grade’ the components of the summer employment program, assess the contribution to their current employment or education setting, and describe how the program could contribute to their future educational goals and career aspirations. After finishing the focus group discussion and the pile sort exercises, participants were asked to complete an individual survey that included demographic questions and measures of their perspectives on the future, such as “getting a good job depends upon my success in school now” or “I think my job opportunities will be limited by discrimination.”

We analyzed the focus group discussions and pile sort exercises to discern how participants described various forms of social capital and how they would articulate the contributions and resources that these relationships would have for their future aspirations. Using a six-step process for conducting a thematic analysis outlined by Braun and Clarke (2006), we identified the commonalities and variations across the focus groups and the pile sort cards. We then compiled these into a set of main themes and returned to the specific focus group transcripts and cards to assess the subthemes and variations within each discussion. After organizing the aggregate data by main themes and corresponding subthemes, we then created a “thematic map” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 87), moving across and within the themes for relationships. When we had reached saturation within a theme, by identifying all of the segments across focus groups that were relevant from the dataset, we then examined the narrative within themes for refinement and coherence. Finally, we returned to the data to retrieve representative quotes for each of the themes selected for inclusion in the final analysis.

Results

Thirty-five youth participated in the four focus groups; 20 males and 15 females. The participants ranged from 16 to 20 years of age with an average age of 16.9. Twelve of the participants (36.4%) were immigrants (also called ‘newcomers’) to Canada and, of those, approximately 35% had lived in Canada 4 years or less, 27% between 5 and 9 years and 35% had lived in Canada 10 years or more.

The youth were generally very positive about the program: 68% (n=24) of the youth gave the overall program an ‘A’ grade and 31% (n=11) gave the program a ‘B’ grade. Most felt the program was worthwhile and the work experience they gained was valuable. Criticisms of the program focused primarily on the pre-workshop trainings and the participants’ dislike of the lecture format or feeling that some of the material, such as resume writing and job hunting, were duplicates of what they had received in high school.

Generally, the participants expressed confidence in their abilities and had ideas for what they wanted their future employment to be, in the form of their “dream job.”  However, results from the individual surveys revealed that 15% felt that they would have a hard time finding a job when they graduated, and 16% thought that discrimination would be a barrier to their job opportunities. Ninety-four percent of the participants felt that in order to obtain what they wanted in life, they would need to go to college or university; however, only 78% felt they were smart enough to do well in these environments. 

Descriptive differences between males and females could be seen in areas related to their knowledge of what they wanted to do for their future careers and the role of education in attaining their goals. Approximately 84% of the males indicated that they already knew enough about potential occupations to make a choice about their future, while only 57% of the females felt they had sufficient information to make a choice. However, 78.6% of the female participants felt that it was important for them to make a decision about their future career now even though 30% felt that they did not know their own interests well enough to inform their decision. Approximately 95% of the males agreed that their success in life depended upon how well they did in school now compared with 86% of the females. An additional difference between the males and females could be seen in the anticipation of discrimination: none of the females indicated they felt their job opportunities would be limited by discrimination, while 28% of the males agreed that this would be a future barrier. 

Descriptive differences between Canadian-born youth and newcomer youth could be seen in the expectation of their future work; however, the differences were not statistically significant. For example, only 33% of the Canadian-born youth agreed that they had enough information to determine what their future job would be, while 100% of the immigrant youth felt they had sufficient information to make a choice about their future occupation. Only 10% of the Canadian-born youth thought that it would be hard to find a job when they graduated, while 25% of the immigrant youth thought they would have difficulty. Slightly more newcomer than Canadian-born youth felt their job opportunities would be limited by discrimination: 19% of the immigrant youth agreed with this statement compared with 14% of the Canadian-born youth. One of the greatest differences between the two groups pertained to whether they felt they were “smart enough to do well in University.” One hundred percent of the immigrant youth believed they were smart enough to do well in university while only 65% of the Canadian-born youth believed the same about themselves.

Focus Group Discussions  

Through the iterative analytical process described above, three themes related to the acquisition and value of social capital emerged from the discussions in the focus groups. We labeled these themes as: (a) expansion of resource associations and development of networks, (b) development of communication skills and self-identity, (c) increased confidence and optimism for the future. 

Theme 1: Expansion of Resource Associations and Development of Networks. Many of the participants commented that their most important experiences in the summer jobs program were related to the people they had worked with, such as supervisors, co-workers or other associates they met on the job. These relationships played a number of different roles for the youth, including network connections and resources for the future. Youth also expressed surprise at how much these relationships meant to them. For example, many of the participants made comments similar to these:

You can make new friends…with a co-worker…with someone you just happen to meet during your employment, more connections, more exposure; that’s all very helpful and, you know, eye opening. It’s definitely helpful to your future.

Yeah connections are important because if you know a certain person in a certain field that you want to get into, you can get information and stuff. Maybe they can connect you to other people that are in that field.

…a couple of people took notice of me that were restaurant customers…two of them even offered me a job at the bank…I took her up on her offer but the schedules didn’t work out with school…but it was an eye-opening experience that basically if you work hard others will take notice of you.

Understanding the importance of maintaining these connections after leaving the program was also identified by these youth. As both Bourdieu (1986) and Stanton-Salazar (2011) have noted, in order for social capital to bridge across social strata, relationships must be actively cultivated and fostered. Similarly, Yan and Lam (2009) emphasized the importance of youth being taught to nurture professional connections and to recognize their value for potential future employment opportunities. The youths’ awareness was reflected in this quote:

You never know…maybe somebody you just happen to meet through your employment and you get her e-mail address….maybe that person will be your next employer, maybe that person will be able to introduce you to a job….maybe you meet that person again at an event in the future…that sort of thing.

Critical within empowerment social capital is the willingness of those with resources to share them, even when there is no expectation of future benefit or equal exchange. This willingness to share resources without the expectation of return benefit is of critical importance to disadvantaged youth. The role of “institutional agents” within empowerment social capital is to make available vital resources to disadvantaged youth that are necessary for economic and educational attainment such as those that are readily available to higher status youth (Stanton-Salazar, 2011, p. 1067). Several examples of institutional agents and their role were articulated in our participants’ experiences. For example, comments across the focus groups included these experiences:     

My boss...he is like a contact now. I am starting at the University in the fall and he said he could help me look for books, look for classes, he is going to show me around the University if I need it.

My boss pulled me aside and said you should be applying here next year because of how good I was doing…even though I was one of the youngest people working there it made (me) feel positive, like he said (I) could do it.

The components of this theme that emerged from the focus group with the newcomer youth were almost identical to those from the other three focus groups. However, the one characteristic that varied from the others was the value of seeing other immigrants in successful positions and understanding the process of their achievements. Different from bonding social capital—where the relationships are within social groups or similar ethnic identities—in this case the youth valued the opportunity to develop relationships across social boundaries with other successful immigrants that were not necessarily within their own ethnic or social group. Relevant quotes from the specific newcomer participants included: 

Like someone possibly pointing the way or showing me options…or different people in different careers and job fields and they say, I achieved this and this is the way I got there.

My CEO at work…she is an immigrant too… just came to this country… and now she is pretty successful so it kind of makes you want to be like that.

Theme 2: Development of Communication Skills and Self-identity. While many youth employment programs include ‘job readiness’ as an outcome, the indicators used for measuring success are often defined as punctuality, workplace dress, task completion and responsibility. The participants of this program articulated a more nuanced set of workplace skills such self-awareness and comfort in working diverse settings as well as the ability to differentiate between communication in a work environment and informal relationships. In relation to bridging social capital, these characteristics are important for the ability to foster relationships across social strata and develop the flexibility to integrate into new environments. Expressions of these included:  

Through my job experience, I am able to learn how people can behave and also meet different types of [people]. Becoming more knowledgeable in that aspect I think I will…have a good ability to adapt to change and also work with different people.”

“I learned the importance of the relationship between co-workers. There is really a difference. Like basically you know there is a level of professional relationship and also a level of friendship.

If you are working in (a work setting), it helps your social skills and you are able to talk to a variety of people about stuff other than the same people that you usually hang out with.

A further dimension of this theme was the opportunity for the youth to interact with people outside of their traditional relationships, which enhanced their sense of competence and confidence in communicating across social strata. This was reflected in quotes such as: 

I am more open, better, at communication…I came into contact with types of people that I normally would not come in contact with…

It… gave us more experience when it comes to social interactions with different people…it helps us to connect to a larger society, larger community.

[The job] increased my confidence in talking to people in a professional manner.

Youth also expressed how these interactions increased their confidence in being able to use these communications skills in future working relationships. Discussions across the four focus groups yielded comments similar to these quotes:

Yeah, it made me more confident when it comes to dealing with strangers which will be a part of my job, so dealing with clients and interacting with co-workers to establish some sort of a professional relationship will definitely help my future career.

It has made me more confident in speaking in public or definitely speaking with professionals and people that I need to get involved with to further my education or my career.

Finally, in addition to providing experiences outside of youths’ immediate community networks or neighborhoods, effective youth employment programs can play a role in identity development by providing youth with the chance to experiment with different areas of interest and diverse environments (Collura, 2010). Our participants expressed how the opportunity to reflect on their own skills and interests through the program was a benefit and an important contribution to their self-awareness. Several of them remarked: 

I wanted to be an Early Childhood Educator and working with little kids…made me realize that it’s not something for me…like I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t see myself doing that every day for a long time…so it makes you realize that it’s not what you expect, I guess you could say.

I was at a Canadian Centre of Excellence so I got to deal with…different nationalities and everything. I got to see what it was like.

Like I know what I want to do now. I want to work with kids with autism...before I just wanted to work with kids in general but now I want to put my focus on kids with autism.

Theme 3: Increased Confidence and Optimism for the Future. Several of the subthemes from our analysis revealed the ways in which the program had made significant contributions to the participants’ sense of confidence in setting goals and aspirations for themselves. Many of our participants noted how the program reduced the “fear” that they had in facing the future. For example, participants made comments such as:   …when I went into this, like I was terrified, but then the supervisor I had, she was amazing…and [I] am not so scared to go out and find a job now.

Your confidence level goes up because it gives you more confidence to go out and see what you can do to work towards your dream job. You are not as scared.

It makes you want to work harder towards what you want to be or what you want to do. It gets you excited to be able to go out and do what you want to do.

This increased awareness of self-identity and the opportunity to develop confidence to aspire to careers or educational levels that they might not have previously considered themselves capable of—or which they may not have been encouraged to consider by those in their traditional contexts—is a critical component of social capital. For example, as one youth noted:  I heard about [the program] through a friend at school and he told me that it was a great way to get a different job…that was outside of where I would normally get a part time job.  Other youth expressed how important it was to them to have others outside of their traditional networks recognize their potential. For example: 

I found that other people had more respect for me other than myself…that kind of makes me feel good.

Finally, the sense of accomplishment and confidence that the participants contributed to their summer job experiences also substantiates the importance of employment programs for building self-esteem, which in turn supports their ability to acquire and utilize social capital.  Comments such as these were made in every focus group:   

I did this to gain experience and see how I would deal with challenges in the real world and it was amazing!

It builds your self-esteem to know that you actually completed the program… and then you already know what you can do in the future so you already have that backing you…yeah, I got through this program so I can definitely do this, so why not try it!

Discussion and Contribution to Social Work Policy, Practice, and Knowledge

The findings from our study contribute to a greater understanding of how bridging social capital can translate into economic/educational advancement through work connections and pathways such as increased confidence, a more positive self-perception, and an enhanced awareness of the role of networks and relationships outside of one’s traditional groups. Furthermore, our study revealed how the resources that are shared from these relationships can provide opportunities that would otherwise not be available to youth. The current literature on youth and social capital discusses how bridging social capital may enhance well-being, but it does not explain how these causal mechanisms actually operate. For example, Zhang, Anderson, & Zhan (2011), articulate the need for more “precise measures” of bridging social capital in order to better understand its nuanced effects on economic mobility (p. 138). Our study illustrates how components of employment programs might function as conduits for social capital and yields possible dimensions for conceptualizing and operationalizing these areas for future research. Moreover, if youth employment programs were fundamental mechanisms for the acquisition of bridging social capital for disadvantaged youth, it would be prudent to explicitly incorporate these components and associated outcomes into program designs. Subsequent evaluations of these programs might explore the effectiveness of various methods for promoting and sustaining the relationships, which promote the acquisition of social capital.

Our study also shows that social capital is not something that youth acquire arbitrarily. Instead, as our participants articulated, they became aware of the importance of developing professional relationships and how these connections could assist them in future employment opportunities, thus, promoting their socio-economic advancement. They also developed an awareness of the differences between workplace relationships, personal friendships, and distinct ways in which professional connections are cultivated. This awareness can be likened to the acquisition of the “sociability” that researchers have identified as being necessary for an effective utilization of the resources that are available through bridging social capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Schaefer-McDaniel, 2004). 

Stanton-Salazar emphasized that the transformative power of “empowerment social capital” is the awareness of youth and mentors to recognize global barriers that prevent a more equitable society (2011, p. 1090). Those with the power to produce change, such as institutional agents, should work to address these barriers, not just encourage youth to enter into the status quo uncritically (Stanton-Salazar, 2011). While this awareness was not specifically identified in our youths’ discussions, some of the youths’ comments pointed to the possibility that the promotion of empowerment social capital could be explored through summer jobs programs, if made explicit in the program design and expectations. For example, several comments made across the focus groups were similar to this representative quote:  

 …our employers got to know us and realized that we weren’t some punk kids you know…kind of gave us-like I said before-the sense of pride that we are not just what everybody thinks we are.     

Our results also confirm the findings from other research studies, which describe a cascade effect in which program participation may prompt subsequent decisions, for example staying in school and getting a degree (Matsuba, et al, 2008; Weaver, 2011a). The quotation  “it is kind of a bigger motivation to you to stay in school and get a degree…and do something more with your life” is an example of this potential cascade effect. This is comparative to the findings of Matsuba et al., (2008), who determined that an employment program for at-risk youth yielded positive results in terms of post-programmatic employment and educational enrollment rates (Matsuba et al., 2008). Other evaluations of employment and career development program have found that youth who work have better schoolwork performance and better school engagement (Lerman, 2000), as well as better labor market outcomes later in life (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2005). Additional specific benefits derived from youth employment programs include increased confidence and motivation toward future employment (Weaver, 2011a), increased self-esteem and life satisfaction and a reduced sense of loneliness (Matsuba et al., 2008), increased optimism and hope for the future (Robitschek, 1996), and a belief in being better prepared for future employment or educational experiences (Shanks, McGee, & Meehan, 2011).

Given the findings of our study, we recommend that youth employment program planners consider incorporating explicit objectives targeting the development of bridging social capital into youth employment programs. Program designers may incorporate deliberate opportunities for youth to develop bridging social capital through job placements in a range of environments and types of professional settings combined with targeted discussions on the importance and advantages of building and maintaining relationships developed through these experiences. Further studies examining the role that youth employment programs can play in cultivating various dimensions of social capital, including bridging and empowerment social capital, would contribute to a greater understanding of how these programs can contribute to long-term social change that may not be immediately evident in short term education or employment outcomes.

Our study is limited in sample size, diversity, and geography; hence, we suggest future studies employ larger sample sizes, geographic variation, and monitoring changes over time as a means of generating further knowledge in this area. Nonetheless, we feel our results provide a noteworthy contribution to the emerging body of literature, which highlights the benefits of bridging social capital and how youth employment programs may foster this valuable asset within the era of the social investment state.

 

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