Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Role of Social Capital among the Food Insecure

A couple weeks ago, I questioned my assumption that there was a lack of a social network among food insecure. Did this commonality of interviewees happen to be a fluke or a norm? As I read through Chapter 8 in Communicating Health I realized that low social capital could be a possibility.

However, I guess I now find myself at a crossroads with more questions than I do with answers. The presence of social capital lends itself to more established networks and a sense of solidarity within the community. As a result, what should be seen then is a more advantageous interaction with agency, structure and culture on behalf of the community. When social capital is lacking or absent, there is a missing framework on which to introduce opportunity and improvement.

Perhaps where I find myself with the most questions is when social capital is lacking or non-existent within a marginalized audience. If the individuals we have interviewed lack the networks and solidarity like I sense that they do, and the culture-centered approach lends itself as a tool for solidarity and coalition building to emerge, what is happening within and among these individuals at the cognitive level? How is it that a lifestyle that has been lived for so long can begin to have emerge from within it the desire to connect with others in the same “community?” Dutta refers to Bandura (social cognitive theory) in this context as it relates to an individual’s tendency to engage in a healthy behavior through the influences of the connective community and associated behaviors. So, how is the cognitive level really playing out here? Also, is it possible that certain communities, regardless of the researcher involvement as a co-participant in the narratives, just cannot pull together in a way that lends itself to coalition building? If so, then how, as the researcher/co-participant, do you even begin to recognize this?

2 comments:

Researchers said...

Mohan, I think we also have to look at the physical impact on the cognitive functioning of individuals experiencing even mild levels of food insecurity. We know that children, for example, are often unable to pay attention when they are hungry and are also more susceptible to illness. Micronutrient deficiencies can cause neurological effects, which might lead someone to feel less connected to other people therefore unable to engage in activities that promote social connectivity and capital. Plus, food insecure individuals are often "obsessed" with the seeking of food, which may prohibit other, more higher order, activities from occurring. Abby Gold

Titi said...

Beyond that this also the question of stigma or shame associated with lack of food, and especially of being on the margins of the society. Studies on HIV stigma indicate that internatized stigma is in some cases worse than externalized stigma because internalized stigma seem to affect cognitive functioning