Community efficacy and social capital: Modelling how communities deliver outcomes for members
Kilpatrick, SI and Abbott-Chapman, JA, Community efficacy and social capital: Modelling how communities deliver outcomes for members, Social Capital, Lifelong Learning and the Management of Place: an international perspective, Routledge, Michael Osborne, Kate Sankey, Bruce Wilson (ed), Oxon, UK, pp. 105-124. ISBN 978-0-415-42796-8 (2007) [Research Book Chapter]
In this analytical chapter we introduce a new way of thinking about the social capital of a community, linked to the community's capacity to deliver favourable outcomes for its members. This capacity is termed community efficacy. The chapter reports on the initial stages of a project that is building the knowledge base and developing a framework for measurement of outcomes that accrue to rural communities. We focus on aspects of health service provision as exemplars of what our model and measurement framework may be used to achieve, illustrated by two case study communities in Tasmania, Australia. We present a model for the study of community efficacy which illustrates the link between community activity infrastructure and community efficacy and between the structural and dynamic elements of community transactions which go to make up the concept of social capital. This paves the way for a measurement framework against which a community's efficacy and the wellbeing outcomes of its members may be rated within any nominated social domain, and the robustness of its social capital may be assessed. The framework recognises that social capital resources are used at the point of interaction between community members; hence at a practical level opportunities for interaction are important. It also advances theoretical understanding of social capital and how it works in communities. While the literature suggests that the quality and quantity of a community's social capital has a large impact on that community's capacity to deliver favourable outcomes for its members and its capacity to manage its own future, social capital remains notoriously difficult to measure despite many attempts to do so. There is consensus that social capital is the 'property' of a community or collective, yet in measurement frameworks social capital is normally aggregated across individuals and different levels. Our model attempts to disaggregate and to tease out the different strands and dimensions involved in the 4 domains of Education, Employment, Health & Welfare, and Voluntary Social Groups. We argue that, as communities are not socio-economically homogenous, the differential capacity of various groups within the community to participate, and their differential access to decision making structures, should be included. Further, social capital must be set in context - social capital resources that are effective in one context are not necessarily effective in another. We suggest that the framework can be applied to measure community efficacy in various settings, and discuss how it can be applied to a rural community's ability to foster good health and general community 'wellbeing' outcomes at the planning and practical levels.