Assessing the impact of government intervention on social capital formation and livelihood strategies of rural communities : the case of eThekwini and Ugu Municipalities - KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa.
Mchunu, Bhekamachunu Henry Zwelethu.
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Since 1994, there has been a concerted effort by the government of South Africa to support agricultural initiatives – as apparent in the promotion of collective agriculture group initiatives and a deliberate focus on creating a policy environment favoring such initiatives. The cooperative model has been adopted by government as a preferred business model for this purpose. The adoption and promotion of collective action as a model for government intervention in rural development suggests an acknowledgment of social capital as an economic development resource and asset. The past two decades have also seen growing interest in social capital among social theorists and acceptance of social capital as a resource for minimising transaction costs and transforming trade relations. The earliest known advocate of social capital is Hanifan (1916), a state supervisor of rural schools in West Virginia, United States of America. However, the concept owes its most recent resurgence in popularity to the late twentieth century theorists, particularly Coleman and Putnam (1980s), a sociologist and a political scientist respectively. This inquiry looks at the impact of government-sponsored intervention on local stock of social capital of rural communities with government’s developmental local government and rural development agendas as a backdrop. The small-scale farmer groups of Ugu District and eThekwini Municipalities in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa were purposively identified and selected for this study due to the involvement of government in both cases, albeit to varying degrees. The central argument of this inquiry is that government involvement in social capital formation could potentially retard voluntary initiative at community level and promote dependency. The qualitative approach and the interpretive paradigm underpin the methodology for the empirical aspect of this inquiry.