Affordable Access

Social exclusion and social capital in northern Adelaide: the role of social networks in reproducing social inequity

Centre for Social Change Research, School of Humanities and Human Services, QUT
Publication Date
  • 160806 Social Theory
  • 160512 Social Policy
  • Social Capital
  • Social Inclusion
  • Social Change
  • Critical Assessment
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


North American, European and Australian debates on the concepts of social exclusion and social inclusion have tended to address a Durkheimian argument that socially excluded sections of the community should be re-integrated into the social mainstream in the interests of social harmony. Durkheimian social inclusion has similarities with Putnam’s conception of social capital, which has received attention in Australia since Eva Cox’s 1995 Boyer lecture. In Bowling Alone and other works, Putnam equates civic engagement and reciprocal social networks with socially inclusive societies. This relationship has been appropriated by governments around the globe to justify "social integrationist" policies, of which the Federal Government’s Mutual Obligation agenda is a case in point. This paper argues that the virtuous relationship between social capital and social inclusion is contestable. Results from the University of Adelaide’s 2005 Northern Adelaide Social Inclusion Survey are critically assessed to address the nature of the relationship between social exclusion, social inclusion and social capital and the implications for social change. It is argued that in some communities indicators of civic engagement, social cohesion and social capital co-exist with indicators of social exclusion. Attention is drawn to Bourdieu’s discussion of the mediating role of the quality of social networks in reproducing social exclusion in otherwise socially engaged and cohesive communities.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.


Seen <100 times