Sociology and Family Life

Topics: Sociology, Community building, Social capital Pages: 6 (1945 words) Published: January 1, 2013
Introduction to the research area.
Within the long tradition of sociological theory, among the writers such as Durkheim, Marx, Weber,Tonnies, and Simmel has been concerned about the loss of community and the weakening of social relationships and the bonds. In the modern theories of social capital which originated in the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu and James Coleman, emphasizing the importance of social ties and shared norms for societal well-being and economic efficiency. There are multiple and alternative understandings of this concept. It is been argued by these thinkers that the changes mentioned above within the family life constitute a loss of social capital within families thus representing a weakening of family bonds and norms of trust and reciprocity (Fukuyama 1999). Putnam (1995) says that this in turn lead to declining levels of community attachment and trust, which are key dimensions of community social capital. The relationship between the family change within the above variables and the community life has rarely been the focus of empirical research (Hugues and Stone, 2003.) There had been discussions on this topic from different perspectives; one is that value systems, solidarity, trust, reciprocity within the family itself is linked to the social capital of the family life while there are other wide range of studies that talks about the value of social capital in community wellbeing, development and progress. Explaining on the social capital within the context of community for the benefit of this study, it should be noted that the notion of social capital is bit complex and has been discussed in relation to many aspects of community development and wellbeing .it should be also noted that it differs from human capital although sometimes it brings about similar characteristics and involve human capacity at both ends. According to the OECD report human capital is embodied in individuals and social capital resides in social relationships. According to Colmans 1990, social capital can be defined by its functions and it is collection of different entities consisting of some aspects of social structure and thus facilitates certain actions of individuals who are within the structure. since an all embracing discussion or analysis on all the dimensions of social capital would be too complicated, this study selected the dimensions specially related to community wellbeing, namely, networks and memberships , social trusts , collective action and reciprocity within the focus of their definition and contents. There are also various studies that find the links between the changes within the family life and the community social capital. According to Coleman, family relationships are most effective for reinforcing group norms and sanctioning non reciprocal behavior when the family was embedded within the network of intense community ties. In social capital literature the family and the community are presented in pairs. Howard and Newman(2002) state ‘ it is family relationships that are vital building blocks of strong society, in turn it is only strong communities that have the capacity to engage family in community life’. But the mechanisms by which families generate social capital in community are rarely articulated. In past 4 decades family have been facing many challenges in terms of separation and divorce, cohabitation and family economic roles (Revanera, 2002). The norms governing family is changing too from been obligation to negotiate. Additionally the increased individualization and the change of role of men and women have led to greater freedom and flexibility of entry in to and exit from relationships. These changes leading to declining of social capital of family has led to declining level of community (Fukuyama, 1999, Putman, 1995). It had been quite obvious, the changes and the challenges that the Sri Lankan families have been facing in terms of the above described aspects. In the same manner the...
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