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The Australian National University

Social capital and capabilities

LECTURE 11

5 May 2011

The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines social capital as ‘networks, together with shared norms, values and understandings which facilitate cooperation within or among groups'. The concept of social capital was developed in the US and, like the concept of wellbeing, its applicability to Indigenous Australians is a matter of ongoing debate. For example, an analysis of the standard measures of social capital may show that Indigenous Australians have lower levels than non-Indigenous Australians. However, the obvious question is whether the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are real or whether social capital means different things for the different populations and hence should be measured in different ways? In this lecture, we consider the applicability of the concept of social capital for Indigenous Australians and how it could (and should) be measured. We will also consider the relationship between social capital and wellbeing in an Indigenous context.

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