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Social capital: analysing the effect of a political perspective on the perceived role of government in community prosperity

  • Year: 2007
  • Author: Brooks, Kate
  • Editors: Giorgas, Dimitria
  • Journal Name: Rural Society,
  • Journal Number: Vol.17, No.3
  • Country: Australia

Social capital has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, however debate continues over the concept in policy and community renewal strategies. This paper explores how different interpretations of the concept may affect the role that government is perceived to have in developing 'social capital'. Empirical research findings are used to explore the relevance of different social capital interpretations to the role of government in rural prosperity. The paper argues that the current dominant interpretation obscures the role that government can play in generating community prosperity. Additionally, this paper argues that the dominant interpretation of the concept does not acknowledge the effect that government actions may have on social networks and, therefore, social and economic outcomes. The paper comments on the implications of different social capital interpretations for policy development focused on the social and economic sustainability of rural Australia. It concludes that the political context of the use of social capital affects how it is interpreted. Further, the interpretation utilised affects government policy responses to the renewal of rural communities, a factor largely unrecognised in social capital debates

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