Is social capital formation and maintenance under threat in County Sligo? : A critical review and exploration 1993-2013
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This thesis seeks to assess the extent to which social capital formation and the commensurate maintenance of this substance, imputed to ‘bind society’, has been under threat in County Sligo over the period 1993-2013. Relatedly, issues around individualism, community and social self-encapsulation, as a consequence of the recent era of significant economic recession and austerity, are unpacked by providing a within case and non-generalizable case study of County Sligo. Adopting a mixed method approach, this research was operationalized by undertaking an extensive literature review of social capital. From this review a list of issues and themes emerged. These initially informed a topic guide for a focus group session consisting of community activists from all walks of life in County Sligo. The views of the focus group participants laid the foundations for a quantitative survey which in turn paved the way for a number of one-to-one interviews with leading members of County Sligo society representing a range of organisations. The findings from this research indicate that there is significant and widespread anger at the way leading institutions of the State behaved over the preceding decades including concern at the manner in which consecutive County Development Plans did not adequately facilitate, encourage or support the development of the social capitalisation of Sligo. Low levels of trust in society emerge as a major issue. However, people in County Sligo distinguish between interpersonal trust and institutional trust and indicate that they are prepared to reach out and engage in collective re-social capitalisation activities transcending social, economic, ethnic cleavages. That human nature will find the strength to heal the wounds and face the future with hope and some confidence was the principle finding of this research and that Sligo people have a pride in their county.
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