Saturday, August 14, 2010

UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR ENHANCING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN GHANA

Abstract
Social capital is relatively a modern development concept that attempts at presenting the relationship between individuals and organisation and their interaction at the local level as potentials to civic engagement (participation) and empowerment. The fundamental premises underpinning this concept encompasses those of local values, trusts, social cohesion, networking and institutional effectiveness. The concept of social capital is generally associated with social development, civic participation and with networks of co-operation and solidarity (Franke 2005). Thus, building a strong social capital at the local level where there are non-existing and strengthening that of communities with social capital present development practitioners with an effective potential for promoting civic engagement at the community level. Social capital from the public/development policy perspective articulates the concept as a clear starting point for effective dialogue on public issues. Clearly, there is a link between social capital and civic engagement. Subsequently, building a strong social capital at the local level will form a solid foundation for civic engagement that respond to the development needs of people. As would be seen, examples of studies conducted across many countries reveal how social capital has influenced civic engagement and its consequential positive outcome on community empowerment. This therefore is the thrust of this research.