Knowledge Weaving in Murri Women’s Groups

Year: 2019

Author: Oliver, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Social capital theory has been a popular feature of social policy, because there are potential cost savings when relying on social networks to address social problems. Some studies though have found that Aboriginal people have limited access to social capital due to their social and cultural position as a result of historical dispossession and white privilege. Social capital as a theory has largely neglected issues of culture and gender, although social capital has been found to both reinforce and influence Aboriginal cultural identity. There is little research that has been conducted specifically with Aboriginal Women about social capital and what it means to them and how it might assist in reinforcing cultural identity. One key aspect of social capital theory is the concept of information exchange. This research explores the role an Aboriginal Women’s Weaving Group plays in making social capital more accessible to Aboriginal Women, with the focus being the exchange of information. This study is important because it broadly recognises historical struggles for survival must be factored into the articulation of Indigenous Social Capital. In addition, I suggest, Aboriginal Women’s groups utilise social capital to assist in addressing cultural and social inequalities experienced amongst Aboriginal Women through yarning, sharing and supporting each other. My standpoint emanates from being Gomeroi (north western NSW) and in my research I utilise Indigenous research methodologies, including ‘Indigenous Women’s Standpoint’ and research method ‘Yarning’. I explore social capital with Aboriginal Women using James Colemans (1988) theory of social capital, whodescribes information channels as an important form of social capital that occurs in social relations, that keeps people informed and can be the impetus for action. Weaving groups create a safe space for women to connect, be empowered, learn and share knowledge, whilst reinvigorating cultural identity. During this presentation, conference participants will have the opportunity to participate in a weaving circle, participants will be asked to share their views on connecting with others and experiences of exclusion. During this creative session I will also I will share some preliminary findings from my research. Social capital is a concept that has been criticised for overlooking concepts of culture and gender, this weaving groups invites people from all culture and will not exclude men who wish to take part.