The development and recovery of social capital through community-based adult learning
This paper explores the connection between participation in community-based adult learning (CBAL) and the development of social capital. It is based on a life-history study of participation in community-based adult learning opportunities undertaken in two local authority areas in Scotland. A life-history approach was chosen in order to ensure that the learners' perspectives were at the heart of the research while taking account of the context in which learning took place. Two semi-structured life history interviews were carried out with each of 10 learners and data were analysed in three stages, which led to the identification of cross-cutting themes. The paper explores the learners' experiences of participating in CBAL as described by them. It confirms for CBAL what has been established previously for other types of adult learning, namely that participation can support the development of social capital for some learners. Furthermore, it is argued that other learners were able to recover decreased or lost social capital through their participation. The paper contributes to an understanding of community-based adult learning as part of the continuum of lifelong learning opportunities, as it illustrates the potential of CBAL not only to support the development of social capital, but also to help learners recover capital that might have decreased through their life circumstances.
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