Deakin University

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Community efficacy and social capital

conference contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Sue Kilpatrick, J Abbott-Chapman
It has been suggested that the quantity and quality of a community’s social capital has a large impact on that community’s capacity to manage change. Despite many attempts, social capital remains notoriously difficult to measure. There is general consensus that social capital is the ‘property’ of a community or collective, yet in measurement frameworks social capital is normally aggregated up across individuals and different levels. Communities are not homogeneous; we argue that the differential capacity of various groups within the community to participate should be considered. Any measure of community social capital must take account of the diversity of the community and potentially unequal access of groups and individuals to community social capital: the nature and quality of opportunities is not uniform. Further, the validity of social capital depends in fact on its contextualisation – social capital resources that are effective in one context are not necessarily effective in another.

In this paper we present a new way of thinking about the social capital of a community, linked to the community’s capacity to deliver favourable outcomes for its members. We use the term community efficacy for this capacity to manage change and influence the future of the collective and community members. We present a framework that describes the nature and quality of the factors that influence community efficacy and are at the heart of a community’s social capital resources. The framework recognises that social capital resources are used at the point of interaction between community members; hence opportunities for interaction are important. We suggest that the framework can be applied to measure community efficacy in various contexts, and discuss how it can be applied to a rural community’s ability to foster successful transitions to young adulthood for its young people.



Future of Australia's Country Towns Conference (2nd : 2005 : Bendigo, Vic.)


1 - 12


Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities, La Trobe University


Bendigo, Vic.

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.

Start date


End date








Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed; E Conference publication

Title of proceedings

Proceedings of the 2nd Future of Australia's Country Towns Conference

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