The paper presents an empirical research that investigates social capital using a specific theoretical and methodological perspective. The topic of the survey is the social support role played by social capital in a western industrialized country like Italy. Dimensions, structures, functions and contents carried by primary social networks are highlighted by empirical data. Specific attention is devoted to the observation of the different kinds of social support and the various ways of transaction across the different phases of family life cycle, and to the assessment of contingent public benefits related to social support engendered within primary social networks. The research was conducted with a representative sample of the population residing in Italy (n = 1.226), and it combines the survey research techniques with the social network analysis techniques.
Keywords: Family Life Cycle, Personal Networks, Social Capital, Public Benefits, Social Network Analysis