The role of social capital in the creation of sustainable livelihoods : a case study of the Siyazama Community Allotment Gardening Association (SCAGA)

Jacobs, Cindy (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Sociology and Social Anthropology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


Cape Town’s growing economy has benefited greatly from its natural resources. The city boasts the unique Table Mountain; Blue Flag beaches; and the distinctive fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom, all of which have contributed considerably to the revenue generated by the tourism industry. Even though the city’s economy appears robust, many people living in townships on the Cape Flats continue to face a reality of being trapped in a state of deprivation; unable to access those natural resources as a means to make a living; and unable to cope with shocks, trends and seasonality in a dynamic, vulnerable society plagued by inequitable distribution of wealth and environmental degradation. Yet, while access to financial, natural (and other) assets is limited, poor people can rely upon their social assets – or Social Capital (SC) in order to make a living. This case study explores the three types of Social Capital – (i) Bonding SC (between project beneficiaries), (ii) Bridging SC (between project beneficiaries and implementing agents) and (iii) Linking SC (between implementing agents and local government organs) – in an attempt to understand their impact on the livelihoods of project beneficiaries involved in the Khayelitsha-based Siyazama Community Allotment Gardening Association (SCAGA). This was done with the purpose of enabling development practitioners, government officials and local people to work together to plan sustainable initiatives that enhance peoples’ quality of life. Although case studies have been criticised by some authors as lacking scientific rigor and do not address generalisability, this study employed a case study approach due to its appropriateness when dealing with a small number of participants and the specific context of their complex real-life activities in great depth. By taking a post-positivistic stance, the researcher was able to appreciate the different constructions and meanings that people place upon their life experiences.

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