Sergio Sánchez Castiñeira

Social Capital and Poverty in a Southern-European Urban Context

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Familialism; Residualism; Solidarity; Social Services; Spain.

In Southern European societies, there is a social and institutional consensus that the extended family and the community should be the main parties responsible for protecting households from poverty. In the context of insufficient social policies and increasing social needs, social networks have alleviated some of the effects of the recent crisis in Spain but have also shown signs of saturation. This article is based on in-depth interviews aimed at exploring the social relationships of 12 households with children who were users of public social assistance in the city of Tarragona at a time of high unemployment and welfare cuts (2011-2013). The results showed that institutional action in this familialistic welfare context cannot take for granted that social capital (familiar, communitarian or associative) is systematically available for impoverished households, nor that it is necessarily beneficial for them. The conclusion, on the one hand, posits that social policies should aim to have impoverished households access empowering social ties, instead of assuming that households are already in social networks of protection. On the other hand, it provides some strategies for anti-poverty policies to promote social capital more efficiently.

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