Department of Social Services & Poverty Alleviation Lead the Way in Social Capital Interchange | Western Cape Government



Department of Social Services & Poverty Alleviation Lead the Way in Social Capital Interchange

23 March 2005

The Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation (DSS & PA) hosted workshops on social capital at different venues in the Western Cape in the week of 14 to 18 February 2005.


The Department was assisted in this process by three experts in the field of social capital from the Social Planning Network of Ontario; they were Peter Clutterbuck, Shelley Cleverley and Mike Balkwill. The workshops were well attended by a total of 176 delegates from civil society, different levels of government, non-governmental and faith-based organizations as well as the academic sector.

The workshops were held to broaden understanding of conceptual aspects of social capital, raise awareness of the concept and encourage discussion of critical issues related to social capital. The week's activities were seen as the start of a process of increased dialogue and greater co-operation between different sectors on social capital.

Key issues raised at the various workshops:

14 February 2005

This workshop was attended by members of the Social Cluster and District Office members.


  • Methods for promoting community participation and involvement were discussed. This could be achieved by entering areas and communities into which one has been invited or welcomed; establishing research teams that include community members; and bringing groups together through dialogue.
  • The challenge of transforming negative social capital into positive social capital was explored. It was suggested that this could be achieved by addressing the underlying fears of communities and ensuring that government acts with greater neutrality in its dealings with communities.
  • Community ownership of social capital should be encouraged through empowerment of groups and individuals.


15 February 2005

The workshop had two sessions. The first session was attended by 47 representatives of Non-Government Organisations. The second session was attended by 34 representatives of Faith Based Organizations.


  • Social capital can be seen as the 'value stocks' of a community.
  • Entry into communities could be negotiated through asset mapping and a strengths-based developmental approach.
  • All sectors of society have a moral responsibility for promoting the process of social capital formation in the Western Cape.


17 February 2005

A partnership with the University of the Western Cape resulted in the hosting of this joint workshop.

The themes that were discussed in the plenary sessions were:

  • What is Social Capital?
  • Factors that threaten social capital formation in the Western Cape
  • What should be done to promote social capital formation?


Decisions made to take Social Capital forward were as follows:

  • It was agreed that an overarching implementation strategy is required to promote social capital formation in the province.
  • It was suggested that action research be undertaken in pilot sites to assess programmes and interventions designed for social capital formation.
  • Specific dimensions or themes related to social capital could be identified to improve more effective co-ordination of future initiatives.
  • The establishment of a provincial steering committee should be considered. However, delegates did not have a mandate from their respective sectors to deliberate this issue and would need an opportunity for further consultation.


Contact: Alma Crotz
Resource Centre Coordinator
Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation
Phone: 021 483 5671
Fax: 021 483 5602