Thursday, 08 March 2007

Social capital, ethnicity, and cohesion I sometimes think we're a society that snacks voraciously on weak ties, and when it comes to strong ties, the appetite has gone. But (to hold the analogy for as long as I dare) the nutritional benefits of each may not be comparable. OK, forget that. I've just been scanning some papers dated December and announced today by the Family and Parenting Institute, on social capital and transnational families. There are three research papers described in this summary, and they seem to clarify the significance of, and continued need for, bonding capital among ethnic groupings: The research found that the minority ethnic communities studied utilised bonding strategies within their families and communities which then provided them with the support and resources to participate more fully in the wider spheres of education, employment and building intimate relationships and friendships. Although the research acknowledges that being part of a close-knit community can sometimes have negative implications for individuals, the social capital afforded by the solidarity and reciprocity of those communities provided a secure base from which to bridge into the wider community. So far from encouraging increasing social segregation, the adherence to socially accepted norms of their ethnic communities created a resilience that allowed greater involvement in societal life in general. [Emphasis added] The research also highlighted that the reciprocity within the ethnic groupings studied 'encourages a greater sense of caring for members of the community that need more support.' The bonding contexts include family events, cultural rituals and community groups. The bonding networks represent a ‘survival strategy’ as a response to issues arising from social exclusion and marginality, providing support for participation in education, employment and forming intimate friendships in other groups and communities. All the papers are available from the FPI site here.

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