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Understanding the role of social capital for health promotion beyond Putnam: a qualitative case study from northern Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0108-4237
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.
2009 (English)In: Social theory and health, ISSN 1477-8211, Vol. 7, no 4, 318-338 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social capital is believed to improve the capacity of communities to work together for solving collective health problems. The present study was conducted in a community in northern Sweden where citizens through collective actions managed to build an association-driven health center. The aims were to describe the community's existing social capital in order to explore how Putnam's theories could contribute to an understanding of the observed high civic engagement and to discuss how other theoretical perspectives might add to an understanding of the role of social capital for health promotion. A qualitative case study was performed and the analysis followed a grounded theory approach. In accordance with Putnam, inherited social capital and high participation in existing associations were found to be important for uniting people. Beyond these, other aspects such as effective information channels, strong leaders and high social control were also significant and better understood by adding Coleman's and Bourdieu's views of social capital. If social capital is to be used for the purposes of health promotion the risk of increased social inequality as an unintended consequence needs to be considered. An awareness of how specific contextual conditions affect the building and mobilizing of social capital is also crucial.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 7, no 4, 318-338 p.
Keyword [en]
social capital, community health promotion, qualitative case study, grounded theory
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Social Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34196DOI: 10.1057/sth.2009.6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-34196DiVA: diva2:319795
Available from: 2010-05-19 Created: 2010-05-19 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social capital, health and community action: implications for health promotion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social capital, health and community action: implications for health promotion
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background; The overwhelming increase in studies about social capital and health occurring since 1995 indicates a renewed interest in the social determinants of health and a call for a more explicit use of theory in public health and epidemiology. The links between social capital and health are still not clear and the meanings of different forms of individual and collective social capital and their implications for health promotion needs further exploration. The overall aims of this thesis are to explore the relationship between social capital and health and to contribute to the theoretical framework of the role of social capital for health and health promotion.

Methods; Data from a social capital survey were used to investigate the associations between individual social capital and self-rated health for men and women and different educational groups. Survey data were also analyzed to determine the association between collective social capital and self-rated health for men and women. A qualitative case study in a small community with observed high levels of civic engagement formed the basis for exploring the role of social capital for community action. Data from the same study were utilized for a grounded theory situational analysis of the social mechanisms leading to social capital mobilization.

Main findings; Access to individual social capital increases the odds for good self-rated health equally for men and women and different educational groups. However, the likelihood of having access to social capital differs between groups. The results indicate a positive association between collective social capital and self-rated health for women but not for men. Results from the qualitative case study illustrate how social capital in local communities can facilitate collective actions for public good but may also increase social inequality. Mobilizing social capital in local communities requires identification of community issues that call for action, a fighting spirit from trusted local leaders, “know-how” from creative entrepreneurs, and broad legitimacy and support in the community.

Conclusions; This thesis supports the idea that individual social capital is health-enhancing and that strengthening individual social capital can be considered one important health promotion strategy. Collective social capital may have a positive effect on self-rated health for women but not for men and therefore mobilizing collective social capital might be more health-enhancing for women. Collective social capital may have indirect positive effects on health for all by facilitating the ability of communities to solve collective health problems. However, mobilizing social capital in local communities requires an awareness of the risk for increased social inequality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå university, 2010. 105 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1355
Keyword
social capital, self-rated health, health promotion, community action
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Social Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34198 (URN)978-91-7459-021-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-06-12, Betula, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-05-24 Created: 2010-05-20 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson, MalinDahlgren, LarsEmmelin, Maria

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