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Social capital in the contexts of Yolngu life

Christie, Michael J. and Greatorex, John (2004). Social capital in the contexts of Yolngu life. Learning Communities: international journal of learning in social contexts,2004(2):38-51.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Social capital in the contexts of Yolngu life
Author Christie, Michael J.
Greatorex, John
Journal Name Learning Communities: international journal of learning in social contexts
Publication Date 2004
Volume Number 2004
Issue Number 2
ISSN 1329-1440   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 38
End Page 51
Total Pages 14
Place of Publication Darwin, NT, Australia
Publisher Social Partnerships in Learning Research Consortium - Learning Research Group, Charles Darwin University
Field of Research 1608 - Sociology
1301 - Education Systems
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract The notion of social capital has had wide currency in mainstream social policy debate in recent years, with commonly-used definitions emphasising three factors: norms, networks and trust. Yolngu Aboriginal people have their own perspectives on norms, networks and trust relationships. This paper uses concepts from Yolngu philosophy to explore these factors in three contexts: at the former mission settlements, at homeland centres (outstations) and among ‘long-grassers’ in Darwin. In Yolngu life, mulkurr (head) and djalkiri (foot) form behavioural norms; gurrutu (kinship) defines social networks; and maar (strength, power) is an indicator of trust. These components of Yolngu social capital have sometimes been strengthened and sometimes weakened by post-contact social development. At the major centralised settlements (former missions) they have been attacked and undermined; at homeland centres (outstations) they have been confirmed and remain strong; and among long-grassers in Darwin they are still held out as representing ethical behaviour. The persistence of these components of social capital at different levels in particular contexts should be seen by government policy-makers as an opportunity to engage in a social development dialogue with Yolngu, aimed at identifying the specific contexts in which Yolngu social capital can be maximised.
Additional Notes This article has been extracted from Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, Issue 2, November (December) 2004
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