Social Capital, Social Relationships and Adults with Acquired Visual Impairment: A Nigerian Perspective.

Emmanuel Bassey, Caroline Ellison, Ruth Walker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: This study investigates the social capital implications of vision loss among working-age adults in Nigeria. The study explores the challenges of acquiring and maintaining social relationships post-vision loss, and investigates the extent to which visual rehabilitation services support social goals. Method: A qualitative study using a phenomenological approach was undertaken. Eight adults (18–59 years) were recruited from disability service organizations in Nigeria. Telephone interviews were recorded and transcribed, and thematic content analysis was used to analyze the data gathered in this study. Results: Three broad themes were developed from participants’ accounts of their experiences: (1) changes to relationships with friends and others; (2) finding strength in family relationships; and (3) rehabilitation and the confidence to interact. The findings indicate that the relationship between participants and their family members improved post vision impairment, enhancing bonding social capital. However, participants experienced reduced bridging and linking social capital due to diminished or broken relationships with managers, coworkers, friends, and others in the community. Conclusions: As social connectedness and relationships are highly valued in Nigeria’s diverse society, we suggest that adults with visual impairment would significantly benefit from visual rehabilitation services placing greater emphasis on addressing the social goals of participants.Implications for Rehabilitation Visual impairment in working-age adults can strengthen family relationships (homogenous groups), creating bonding capital that is associated with access to important resources including emotional and moral support, and some financial and material resources. Visual impairment can negatively impact relationships with managers, coworkers, and others in the community (heterogeneous groups), resulting in diminished bridging and linking capital. Visual impairment can reduce access to resources such as an income, social status, and reduces participation in the wider community. Visual Rehabilitation Services could significantly benefit participants by placing greater emphasis on social goals, such as building and maintaining social networks, particularly with diverse (heterogeneous groups), which are valued in Nigeria’s diverse cultural climate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1169-1176
    Number of pages8
    JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
    Issue number10
    Early online date2018
    Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2019


    • Nigeria
    • rehabilitation
    • Social connection
    • social networks
    • social wellbeing
    • vision loss


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