Social capital and political participation in South Africa

Hagen, Daniel Edward (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Empirical research on the impact of membership in voluntary associations as a dimension of social capital on political participation has been conducted in a number of countries in Europe as well as North America. With the aid of quantitative analysis of survey data, these studies found that members of voluntary associations were more likely to participate both formally and informally in their country’s political processes than those who were not members. This was due to the role played by voluntary associations in the generation of human capital in the form of self-efficacy and participatory skills or values, as well as bridging social capital in the form of increased networking and trust. Existing research by Marion Keim, Cora Burnett and others have indicated that social capital, and particularly the voluntary association of sport, can have a profound societal impact on South African communities. However, no quantitative study has been conducted on the relationship between membership in voluntary associations and the level of formal political participation in the South African context. Therefore, this study applied the social capital theory as developed in the literature on European and North American studies to the South African context in order to determine whether there is a relationship between the variables of membership in voluntary associations, membership in multiple associations, membership in sports as a voluntary association and the level of formal political participation. Using quantitative methodology, a cross-section of 2006 World Values Survey data was analysed. The findings indicated that the social capital theory on political participation did not apply to the South African context in the same way as to the European or North American contexts due to explanatory differences in South Africa’s socio-political climate. Questions were then raised over whether, due to South Africa’s current political culture, membership in voluntary associations is conducive to encouraging informal channels of participation. The findings reached had implications for social capital theory by indicating its uneven application to the South African context. Moreover, the study highlighted the need for a more context-specific understanding of social capital and its impact upon South Africa’s political processes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Empiriese navorsing oor die uitwerking van lidmaatskap aan vrywillige verenigings as 'n dimensie van maatskaplike kapitaal op politieke deelname is in 'n aantal lande in Europa asook Noord-Amerika uitgevoer. Met behulp van kwantitatiewe analise van opname-data het hierdie studies bevind dat lede van vrywillige verenigings op beide formele en informele wyse meer geneig was om aan hulle land se politieke prosesse deel te neem as diegene wat nie lede was nie. Dit kon toegeskryf word aan die rol wat vrywillige verenigings speel by die ontwikkeling van menslike kapitaal in die vorm van selfwerksaamheid en deelnemende vaardighede of waardes, asook tussentydse maatskaplike kapitaal in die vorm van groter netwerkvorming en vertroue. Bestaande navorsing deur Marion Keim, Cora Burnett en ander het daarop gedui dat maatskaplike kapitaal, en in die besonder die vrywillige verbintenis van sport, 'n diepgaande uitwerking op Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskappe kan hê. Geen kwantitatiewe studie is egter nog oor die verhouding tussen lidmaatskap aan vrywillige verenigings en die vlak van formele politieke deelname in die Suid-Afrikaanse opset uitgevoer nie. Hierdie studie het dus die maatskaplike kapitaalteorie soos in die literatuur oor Europese en Noord-Amerikaanse studies ontwikkel, op die Suid-Afrikaanse opset toegepas ten einde te bepaal of daar 'n verhouding tussen die veranderlikes van lidmaatskap aan vrywillige verenigings, lidmaatskap aan veelvuldige verenigings, lidmaatskap aan sport as 'n vrywillige verbintenis en die vlak van formele politieke deelname bestaan. Met behulp van kwantitatiewe metodologie is 'n dwarssnit van data uit die 2006- Wêreldwaardes-peiling geanaliseer. Die bevindinge het daarop gedui dat die maatskaplike kapitaalteorie ten opsigte van politieke deelname nie op dieselfde wyse op die Suid-Afrikaanse opset as op die Europese of Noord- Amerikaanse opsette van toepassing is nie weens verklarende verskille in Suid-Afrika se sosiopolitieke klimaat. Vrae is toe gevra of lidmaatskap aan vrywillige verenigings weens Suid-Afrika se huidige politieke kultuur bevorderlik is vir die aanmoediging van informele kanale van deelname. Die bevindinge wat bereik is, het implikasies gehad vir maatskaplike kapitaalteorie deur die ongelyke aanwending op die Suid-Afrikaanse opset aan te dui. Daarbenewens het die studie die behoefte aan ’n meer konteks-spesifieke begrip van maatskaplike kapitaal en die uitwerking daarvan op Suid-Afrika se politieke prosesse beklemtoon.

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

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