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"Social Capital in Combating Domestic Violence: Church, Mass Media, and Local Community"

(Working Paper)

Nino Javakhishvili, Maka Lortkipanidze, Ann Petriashvili
Ilia State University

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The Paper was prepared for the 4th Annual Conference in Gender Studies, Center for Social Sciences

6 December, 2012


Abstract:

The present study is designed to examine one of the aspects of policy implementation in combating domestic violence. In particular, we examined different actors involved in combating this problem in Georgia. The collected data was interpreted within the framework of the social capital theory.

The authors of social capital theory underline that it promotes connections between individuals, groups of individuals and institutions, and, in some cases, even the consolidation of individuals and/or groups, to achieve a certain goal. They differentiate two types of social capital: bonding and bridging ones. The bonding social capital refers to in-group connections, while the bridging social capital refers to connections between socially heterogeneous groups. For the productive co-existence of these two forms of social capital, their relatively equal development is needed. Strong in-group ties weaken connections outside the group as well as between groups, which, according to the theory, adversely affects country's social capital development.

Effective opposition to domestic violence calls for the bridging social capital. International experience shows that because of its complex nature, the united inter-agency efforts of different actors - organizations, church, mass media, and local community - are required to effectively combat domestic violence. All these actors form social capital. Several studies were conducted in Georgia concerning the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the process of anti-domestic violence policy implementation, while the other actors have not been in the focus of the research. Therefore, the present study aims to explore the role of social capital, in particular, the church, media, and the local community in combating domestic violence in Georgia.

The information on the above mentioned actors was collected through media publications, organizations' websites and semi-structured interviews with the representatives of the organizations. According to the results, Georgian church, mass media, and local community are minimally, if at all, involved in combating domestic violence. Their activities contribute to further strengthening of established stereotypes about family and gender roles in Georgian society, thus posing certain obstacles on the way of combating domestic violence in the country. These actors do not perceive domestic violence as the social problem and consequently, do not attempt to respond to it. In addition, Georgian church, mass media, and local community do not cooperate with each other regarding this issue that indicates to the weak bridging social capital. Other researchers have revealed that the bonding social capital is strongly developed in Georgia creating the obstacle for the development of the bridging social capital in the country. This has an important unfavorable influence on the processes of combating domestic violence.

Key words: domestic violence, social capital, bonding and bridging social capital, church, mass media, community.