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Journal article

More money, more family: the relationship between higher levels of market participation and social capital in the context of adaptive capacity in Samoa

17 Feb 2018

It is important to understand the effects of higher levels of market participation on the resilience of mixed-subsistence communities to climate change. Climate models predict that the Pacific Islands and other regions with mixed-subsistence communities will experience increased climate variability, including more frequent cyclones and prolonged droughts. Authors suggest that development agencies should help to increase levels of household market participation, or the proportion of household output that is marketable, in rural communities because those households with more financial assets are better equipped to respond to climatic disturbances [Pettengell, C., & Oxfram, P. G. (2010). Climate change adaptation: Enabling people living in poverty to adapt. Oxfram International Research Report.].

Other authors suggest that, because all socio-ecological systems are inherently vulnerable, increasing financial assets may not reduce the vulnerabilities of rural communities to natural hazards [Lauer, M., Albert, S., Aswani, S., Halpern, B. S., Campanella, L., & Rose, D. L. (2013). Globalization, Pacific Islands, and the paradox of resilience. Global Environmental Change, 23, 40–50]. Likewise, authors claim that food-sharing and other forms of social capital are more important to the resilience of mixed-subsistence communities to climate change than are financial assets [Smit, B., & Wandel, J. (2006). Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16, 282–292].

This article demonstrates that higher levels of household market participation are not associated with smaller social networks in Samoa, which shows that households in mixed-subsistence communities that are more engaged in the market do not necessarily have less social capital than others. The article also demonstrates that social institutions shape the relationships among variables of community-perceived adaptive capacity. Future policy changes and other adaptations that satisfy an increased demand for cash may ultimately reduce local-level resilience.

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