Bridging capital and social cohesion in an English village setting
Greenhalgh, Roy (2008)

by Roy Greenhalgh, University of Southampton

The Post office isn’t the only service that is closing in our villages: pubs are unprofitable, village schools are being merged and our children bussed, and village shops are struggling in the face of “one Tesco in every post code”. Besides these public services, changes are under way in the communities and associations that have formed the corner stones of English village life. What, if any, are the emerging agencies that are replacing school gates, pub bars and the post office queue?

This micro study set out to explore if and how social cohesion can diffuse across the boundaries of formal organisations in a village situation. It asked if and how small communities or formal groups with high social cohesion could positively affect others with low cohesion. In short, is social cohesion diffusible? Using the village shop as the core, the study used Social Network Analysis theory and techniques to explore the nature of the relationships between the volunteers and supervisors working in the shop. With measures in place, it then identified other village societies and organisations that had some, but not all, common membership. Choosing two organisations, the study then moved out to understand how these two organisations operated through their volunteer committees, and if any of the qualities or strengths of the group of shop volunteers were “bridged” across to these other organisations.

The presentation will show the aims of the study, discuss key aspects of the underpinning literature, and then present the method adopted. Some of the SNA maps will be presented together with their interpretations leading to the key conclusions that were drawn from the study.

Roy’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).

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