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Social capital, social movements and global public health: fighting for health-enabling contexts in marginalised settings

Campbell, Catherine (2020) Social capital, social movements and global public health: fighting for health-enabling contexts in marginalised settings. Social Science & Medicine, 257. ISSN 0277-9536

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.02.004


Research linking health and social capital is often cited in relation to global public health policies and programmes that mobilise local community participation in health promotion in marginalised settings. A long-standing criticism of this body of analysis and action is its inadequate attention to the power inequalities that drive poor health, often linked to macro-social forces beyond the reach of local community activism. Supplementing social capital research with attention to more ambitious and wide-ranging forms of health activism tackles this criticism. It puts the reproduction and transformation of health-relevant power inequalities at the heart of social capital research and community mobilisation strategies. We use the South African Treatment Action Campaign as a prototype for expanding understandings of social capital for health promotion. Existing social capital work currently focuses on facilitating community mobilisation to create co-operative bonding and bridging social capital (networks of solidarity within and between marginalised communities respectively), as well as linking social capital (networks uniting marginalised communities and more powerful champions). We call for an expanded focus that takes account of how these co-operative networks may serve as springboards for community involvement in adversarial social movements. In such cases, these networks of solidarity serve as launch pads for various forms of demand and protest where the marginalised and their allies confront power-holders in conflictual struggles over health-relevant social resources. We illustrate this expanded framework with two examples of collective action for mental health: the Movement for Global Mental Health and the UK Mental Health User and Survivor Movement. Both seek to use bonding, bridging and linking networks as the basis for movements to pressurise power-holders to increase access to appropriate psychiatric services, adequate welfare support and social respect and recognition for people living with mental distress.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd.
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2019 12:36
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2024 07:36

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