Aboriginal Australians' experience of social capital and its relevance to health and wellbeing in urban settings

Kathryn Browne-Yung, Anna Ziersch, Frances Baum, Gilbert Gallaher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Social capital has been linked to physical and mental health. While definitions of social capital vary, all include networks of social relationships and refer to the subsequent benefits and disadvantages accrued to members. Research on social capital for Aboriginal Australians has mainly focused on discrete rural and remote Aboriginal contexts with less known about the features and health and other benefits of social capital in urban settings. This paper presents findings from in-depth interviews with 153 Aboriginal people living in urban areas on their experiences of social capital. Of particular interest was how engagement in bonding and bridging networks influenced health and wellbeing. Employing Bourdieu's relational theory of capital where resources are unequally distributed and reproduced in society we found that patterns of social capital are strongly associated with economic, social and cultural position which in turn reflects the historical experiences of dispossession and disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal Australians. Social capital was also found to both reinforce and influence Aboriginal cultural identity, and had both positive and negative impacts on health and wellbeing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-28
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


    • Aboriginal Australians
    • Bourdieu
    • Health
    • Social capital
    • Urban settings


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