Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017

 

Boglarka MEREINE BERKI, Gyorgy MALOVICS, Janka TOTH, Remus CRETAN

 

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL CAPITAL AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS IN THE ALLEVIATION OF EXTREME POVERTY AND SPATIAL SEGREGATION OF ROMANI PEOPLE IN SZEGED

 

Abstract

Even more emphasis is set on social capital in understanding, analyzing and planning poverty alleviation measures and policies. However, our understanding of the role of social capital in alleviating extreme poverty, enhancing social mobility and fighting spatial segregation, is still inadequate. Within the present study, we aim to examine and understand (1) the mechanisms that relate to social capital in the case of the segregated urban underclass and (2) the potential interventions for poverty alleviation concerning social capital. In order to examine the dynamics of poverty alleviation measures related to social capital, special attention is paid to the experiences of a cooperative network aimed at creating artificial bridging capital through the introduction of interpersonal relations locally between the middle class and underclass, the patronage network, which was initiated within a broader participatory action research (PAR) process. Our results show that bonding ties and related specific norms as tools for everyday survival easily overwrite system integration efforts for poverty alleviation and social mobility with long-term and uncertain benefits for the segregated urban underclass. In order to overcome this failure, social institutions should place more emphasis on developing meaningful interpersonal relations with the underclass since these might be able to provide personalized help, facilitation, and approximation of perspectives - all being vital for poverty alleviation and social mobility.

 

Key Words: poverty alleviation, bridging social capital, segregation, urban underclass, Romani communities, Szeged.

 

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