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ethics, public health nursing, social capital, social justice



  1. Drevdahl, Denise RN, PhD
  2. Kneipp, Shawn M. ARNP, PhD
  3. Canales, Mary K. RN, PhD
  4. Dorcy, Kathleen Shannon RN, MN


Social justice is a core ethical principle of public health nursing; yet, nurses' work as social activists has largely diminished over the past century. Reengagement in social justice activities is essential to change the current social, economic, and health differentials perpetuated by market justice ideologies. Social capital has emerged in the public health literature as a promising concept for developing community interventions that diminish disparities. Public health nurses, however, must be wary of uncritically adopting social capital as a panacea for inequalities; advocating for interventions seeking to build social capital may be as harmful as the inequalities themselves.