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Students learn about social capital and how to use networking for civic action


Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Do Something about… Voting/Civic Engagement
Lesson 5 – Social Capital
By – Do Something, Inc. /
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Other
Grade Level – 9-12

Do Something about…
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement


The following lesson is the fifth lesson of a 10-lesson
Teen Voting/Civic Engagement Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Lesson 1: What is Civic Action?
Students learn about why people get involved in their communities.
Lesson 2: Why Is Democracy So Demanding?
Students will discuss the role of citizens in a democracy.
Lesson 3: Representin’
Students learn about the system of representation in a democracy.
Lesson 4: How have people used elected offices to make changes?
Students learn how holding a political office effects change.
Lesson 5: Social Capital
Students learn about social capital and how to use networking for civic action.
Lesson 6: Politics, A Laughing Matter
Students learn how cartoons and satire raise concerns about an issue.
Lesson 7: How do organizers bring about change?
Students earn about the strategies of unionizing and boycotting.
Lesson 8: Why do I have to do jury duty?
Students learn how jury duty is a type of civic engagement.
Lesson 9: How can I use writing to lead others to action?
Students learn how the written word is a method of civic action.
Lesson 10: How can speaking engage others in my cause?
Students learn how speeches can gather support for community change.

More student teen voting resources can be found at:

For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:

Lesson 5: Social Capital

Goal: Students will learn the concept of social concept and how social networks can be important for civic action.


Civics: Standard 10

  • Understands the roles of voluntarism and organized groups in American social and political life


  1. Warm-up : Ask students to list the groups and organizations to which they and their parents belong. Some examples might include clubs, email organizations, religious groups, book clubs, etc.
  2. Discover : Introduce the concept of Social Capital to students. “The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [“norms of reciprocity”].” You may want to provide students with some examples of social capital such as concerned neighbors watching over each other’s property, mothers who watch each other’s children at the playground, email groups that help individuals research a topic. “Social capital can be found in friendship networks, neighborhoods, churches, schools, bridge clubs, civic associations, and even bars.”
  3. Ask students to discuss and rate the amount of social capital in their school or community. Do they feel it is adequate?
  4. Have students choose one of the case studies of social capital from the following website and investigate the effects of the social networks. Have students create a profile of the group and investigate how the group worked together to initiate change in their community. Why do people participate in this group? What benefits do they receive?
  5. Take Action : Have students think about ways of increasing social capital in their school or neighborhood. Are there initiatives they could start to bring about awareness of their take action topic? How can they measure the change?


Social Capital

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