Social networks in recently established human settlements in Grahamstown East/Rhini, South Africa

Mukorombindo, Yeukai Chido (2012) Social networks in recently established human settlements in Grahamstown East/Rhini, South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This thesis attempts to understand the concepts of social capital and social networks within the South African government’s current policy on “human settlements”. It considers the association between social networks, social capital and social cohesion, community development and improved general quality of life. The thesis also explores the possibility and challenges of using social capital and social networks amongst low income urban communities as a viable strategy against poverty and for the development of sustainable human settlements. The thesis will examine the nature and form in which informal social networks function in a low income urban community in South Africa and the benefits that arise from these. The thesis particularly looked at informal social security networks in the form of savings clubs/stokvels and burial societies as well as other informal social networks such as religious associations and neighbourhood social support groups. The study discovered that in light of the high unemployment rate, high poverty levels and increasing urban economic pressures, most low income households cannot access or rely on social networks as a means of survival but on grants and wages. Social security networks are only accessible to those who can afford monthly membership contributions thereby excluding the poorest of the poor. For those who can afford to be members of social security networks, the benefits are limited and they do not adequately address household needs. The study also showed how those who cannot afford to be members of social security networks still have access to some sort of communal social support. Neighbours stand out as valuable in this regard. However, the casual neighbourhood support networks are not ‘resource rich’ mainly due to, the inability of people to donate and reciprocate. Religious networks are mainly identified with emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being, providing friendship, comfort and advice but these benefits are only provided to members only in their time of need. The theoretical understanding of social networks producing social capital which is seen as being beneficial to the poorest of the poor is questioned, as the results show the inequalities and divisions that exist within informal social networks themselves. On the other hand, all the social networks considered in this thesis have managed to contribute towards strengthening neighbourly relations, trust, building community identity and promoting values of ubuntu- sharing and caring for one another which in the long-run benefits the community, both members and non-members alike.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Social networks, South Africa, Grahamstown, Human settlements, Capital, Sociology, Customs, Informal sector, Economics, Poor
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Sociology and Industrial Sociology
Supervisors:Coetzee, Jan
ID Code:2925
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:04 Jun 2012 06:38
Last Modified:04 Jun 2012 06:38
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