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UBC Theses and Dissertations

There is no other land, there is no other life but this : an investigation into the impact of gender on social capital and resilience in four rural, island communities of British Columbia. Enns, Sandra Rachelle


This study investigates the relationship between gender, social capital and resilience in four of British Columbia’s rural, island communities. Each community’s unique circumstances provide a distinctive context in which to study the interaction between these concepts. This study utilizes quantitative data from several sources, including Statistics Canada, BC Stats, and a mail out survey conducted by the Resilient Communities Project (RCP). This study also utilizes qualitative data from several sources, including two sets of RCP interviews, interviews carried out in the Haida First Nation community of Old Massett, and participant observation. The results of these case studies confirm the necessity of taking context into consideration in any study of the operation of social capital. Within this specific context, social networks operate very differently than in an urban setting. The small size of these rural communities means that the entire community functions as one social network, within which residents have ties of differing strengths. The strength of their ties determines their access to resources within the network, as access to these resources is only given to those who are accountable and trustworthy. Through visible and repeated social interaction, residents built strong ties to one another. These ties allow for processes of generalized reciprocity to take place, wherein residents give to others with no immediate expectation of receiving back, knowing that should they need help, it will be available. This process relies entirely on the trust built up through repeated interactions and the sanctions imposed on those who break it, and contributes greatly to community resilience. Women play a particular role within these communities. Unlike studies that find that women are disadvantaged by their social networks, the results of this study find that women have parlayed their higher levels of involvement in the social life of the community and the informal economy into beneficial social networks based on trust and reciprocity. In addition, their higher levels of education put them at the forefront of the new service economy with lower levels of unemployment and equal likelihood of self-employment, all of which contributes not only to individual resilience, but community resilience as well.

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