Engendering social capital: Women workers and rural-urban networks in Indonesia's crisis

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier Ltd


This paper is the result of field studies that examine the feminist studies and the geography of rural-urban networks. The study was conducted using qualitative methods to study women migrants and their urban-rural networks in Indonesia during the 97-99 economic crisis. Results indicate that there are some gender specific limitations of social capital as a resource for development, particularly in a situation of crisis. These limitations are related to the social network hierarchies and its different gender forms including access to resources, work, and services. In time of crisis women were pressured to provide for their families. Women feel pressure to participate on high cost networks - solidarity relations - which can cause control and moral pressures and unwelcome claims on labor and remittances. All these can bring unwanted obligations. Also women are often excluded from powerful networks such as informal sector and labor groups. In this context networks can work to disadvantage women. On the positive aspect, networks provide a safety net for migrant young women by sharing rent costs, providing food, assisting with job searches, lending money, and in crisis their kin's resources are made available to them. Rural-urban networks were also maintained, and provided an important source of information.


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Gender, Social capital, Indonesia, Asia, Social networks, Economic crisis, Rural-urban networks, Methodology


World Development 31(5): 865-879