This thesis sets out to examine the notion that social context throughout the life course plays an important role in the development of social capital. It explores this using the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), a longitudinal data set, using data from England and Wales. It argues that social capital can be thought of as being composed of different dimensions which develop differentially over time. It frames the research within the context of the local community and examines three distinct dimensions of social capital: participation in local groups, neighbourhood attachment, and interpersonal trust. Frameworks are developed within which each is hypothesised to develop at different times and within different contexts. Different expectations are outlined which suggest how they should develop within a view of social capital based on Putnam (2000) and his predictions concerning social participation and trust. These are contrasted with theories and findings form the literature on political socialisation and Uslaner's (2002) conception of trust as a deep rooted moral trait.It is shown that participation in local groups, neighbourhood attachment and interpersonal trust, do develop at different stages and in different contexts. Moreover, it is shown that growing up in a highly trusting environment may predict participation and engagement later in life.