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Social capital theory: a cross-cutting analytic for teacher/therapist work in integrating children's services?

Forbes, Joan and McCartney, Elspeth (2010) Social capital theory: a cross-cutting analytic for teacher/therapist work in integrating children's services? Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 26 (3). pp. 335-346. ISSN 0265-6590

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Reviewing relevant policy, this article argues that the current 'integration interlude' is concerned with reformation of work relations to create new forms of 'social capital'. The conceptual framework of social capital has been used by government policy-makers and academic researchers to examine different types, configurations and qualities of relationships, including professional relations, and how these may function as resources. Focusing on the co-work of teachers and speech and language therapists, this analysis introduces social capital as a means of understanding the impact of integrating children's services on professional practitioner groups and across agencies. Social capital theory is compared to alternative theoretical perspectives such as systems and discourse theories and explored as an analytic offering a multi-level typology and conceptual framework for understanding the effects of policy and governance on interprofessional working and relationships. A previous application of social capital theory in a literature review is introduced and analysed, and instances of the additionality provided by a social capital analysis is offered. The article concludes that amongst the effects of current policy to re-design children's services are the reconstruction of professionals' knowledge/s and practices, so it is essential that such policy processes that have complex and far-reaching effects are transparent and coherent. It is also important that new social capital relations in children's services are produced by groups representative of all involved, importantly including those practitioner groups charged in policy to work differently together in future integrated services.