ICAS Publications Series Monographs

Exploring 'Unseen' Social Capital in Community Participation. Everyday Lives of Poor Mainland Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong

Sam Wong

This book argues that using social capital to eradicate poverty is less likely to succeed because the mainstream neo-institutional approach mistakenly assumes that social capital necessarily benefits poor people. This inadequacy calls for a re-assessment of human motivations, institutional dynamics and structural complexity in social capital building.

Exploring ‘Unseen' Social Capital in Community Participation: Everyday Lives of Poor Mainland Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong proposes a ‘pro-poor' social capital perspective, highlighting poverty-specific outcomes in collective action. The ‘agency-institution-structure' framework is suggested in order to explore the mechanisms facilitating and constraining different groups of poor people in gaining access to social capital.

Using ethnographic and participatory methods, this book calls for an exploration of ‘unseen' social capital. ‘Unseen' social capital highlights the nature of everyday co-operation which is shaped by social norms, influenced by conscious and less-conscious motivations, and subject to livelihood priority changes. As such this book is useful to policy makers and practitioners.

Sam Wong is lecturer in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, UK. He obtained the ICAS Book Prize ‘Best Dissertation Award' at ICAS 4 in Shanghai in 2005.

‘Sam Wong presents a rich, readable and thought provoking account of the differential patterning of social capital amongst Chinese migrants in Hong Kong.'

Dr Frances Cleaver, Senior Lecturer, Bradford Centre for International Development, University of Bradford, UK

‘Sam Wong's work brings a sorely-needed fresh perspective to thinking about social capital - how it works and who it works for - that moves away from preoccupations solely with civic organisations to focus on everyday dynamic interactions between agency, structure and institution'

            Prof. Rosalind Edwards, Director of the Families and Social Capital ESRC Research Group, London South Bank University