The objective of the workshop is to raise issues, formalise the issues as questions, critique and debate the ways in which the practical applications of social capital may be useful in (a) conceiving the notion of persistent poverty in contemporary societies, (b) refining the focus of the conceptions around the contributions that notions of social capital and social exclusion can provide when analysing issues of poverty and deprivation in remote areas with high concentration of Indigenous Australians and (c) formulating researchable scenarios for testing ‘solutions’ to the problem.
The problem is this: Current research suggests there is a direct relationship between education levels (as measured by qualifications, literacy and numeracy levels, years of formal education) and the economic well-being of individuals. However, in Australia at least, economic well-being is part of a trend towards higher inequality in education outcomes, with confirmation that the rich are getting richer, while the poor are growing in numbers. Two broad areas of concern arise from this problem. One area of concern is for the inequality in educational outcomes. The other area of concern is for the increasing proportion of the population, particularly Indigenous Australians in rural areas, who are in and around the ‘poverty trap’ and, therefore, not served by current policy and practice in educational and social measures. One apparent solution is to increase education services in general and literacy and numeracy skills in particular. However, this apparent solution is thwarted by the continuing problem of a lack of jobs, and rises in certain non-standard work practices and lack of access to the ‘new economy’ that result in the ‘working poor’ and the ‘poverty trap’ syndrome.
The workshop will have three main themes:
- The current state of knowledge regarding social capital (its attributes related to capacity building) in relation to its impacts on, and potential for alleviating, poverty.
- The potential role of social capital in increasing people’s access to and benefit from formal education and training, with a focus on the potential of notions of social capital and social exclusion for analysing issues of poverty and deprivation in remote areas with high concentration of Indigenous Australians.
- The role of bonding and bridging networks in enabling people to break out of the ‘poverty trap’.