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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Caregivers’ perceptions of social capital within their neighbourhood Parker, Jessica Dorothy


Children do not grow up in a vacuum. For this reason, the examination of children’s environments and relationships within those environments is important to understanding human development. Social capital – a sense of connection, trust, and solidarity with others – has been identified as an important variable in neighbourhoods. Researchers are actively seeking to understand how neighbourhood interactions influence families, but there are important methodological considerations to be made. Given that parents play a key role in children’s lives, it is important to discover how much their perception of social capital may differ from other members of the community. The purpose of the present study was to examine social capital from the perspective of caregivers of young children. Structured phone interviews were used to explore neighbourhood attachment, social cohesion, informal social control, and other aspects of social capital within a British Columbia community. Responses for caregivers of children ages zero to five were compared to two groups: a sample of caregivers of children older than five years old; and a non-caregiver sample. The presence of significant differences in the experiences of these variables between these groups was examined. Results indicated no statistically significant differences in perceptions of social capital between caregivers and non-caregivers for social cohesion, informal social control, or intergenerational closure. However, some small differences did exist in reported neighbourhood attachment and neighbour exchanges. The present study did not provide evidence that it would be necessary to survey parent populations separately for estimations of social capital within a community.

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