n Institute of African Studies Research Review - Social capital and systems of care : some contrasting evidence




This paper further attempts a task of which the usefulness has recently been advocated by van Staveren (2002): that of simultaneously considering caring and social capital within a gendered perspective. The topic fits broadly into issues treated by social scientists of several disciplinary persuasions and in different time periods and locations; that is linkages between social relationships and affiliation on the one hand and physical and mental health and survival on the other, expressed by some as a positive relationship between social capital and health capital. This is a linkage for which public health researchers and others have provided a growing body of evidence of various kinds. Indeed cultural as well as social capital has been recognized as crucial. And there is evidence from many sources in different countries that impacts of social relations, social support, social integration on individuals' health and well being are positive and measurable. Care is clearly a critical intervening variable. <br>This exercise is carried out mainly with reference to Ghanaian materials but with the wider regional experience also in mind. It is concerned in particular with evidence of what are perceived as escalating diminutions and disruptions in parental care, - processes which have profound implications for infants, children and human development and its sustainability. Indeed they are critical for future national development. It is also concerned with the identification of easy to use and adaptable research tools, which can be used to build simple micro, role models operating within cultural and social systems, using basic ethnographic methods (indicating relative levels of social and material capital - available resources and relationships) and which can facilitate comparative empirical field work, designed to test related hypotheses, regarding disruptions and breakdowns of parental care, and their causes and consequences, in contrasting socio- cultural and economic contexts.


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