Macquarie University
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Social capital in rural Bangladesh: a critique from the gender perspective

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:52 authored by Bhatia Bhanu
This thesis analyses the effect of social capital networks on family planning decisions in the Matlab region of Bangladesh. Social capital literature has ignored important aspects of networks such as the role of power and gender subordination. Using social network analysis, we reveal the disparities in family planning networks. The results show that both men and women are likely to receive useful information on family planning through their networks; however, by comparison with the female networks, male networks are better equipped to provide information from diverse sources and are less likely to be constraining. The reasons behind these structural differences in male and female networks are explored using subgraph analysis at the dyadic and triadic level. The results suggest that ties between actors are governed by the prevailing gender norms and are likely to further reinforce the existing inequalities in these social networks. The limitations of social capital in the patriarchal society of Bangladesh are further emphasised by analysing the role of social capital networks on women’s contraceptive decisions. Consistent with the social capital literature, the results show that women are more likely to use contraceptives if they are in contact with other users. Nevertheless, one of the main factors determining women’s contraceptive use is not social capital but the cultural preference for a male child; furthermore, female networks are likely to encourage behavioural conformity in the choice of contraceptive method rather than provide support for individual decision making. Incorporating gender into the analysis thus reveals the limited and contradictory nature of social capital, and this exhaustive analysis cautions against investing in social capital in gender blind terms.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Social Capital, Networks and Family Planning -- 3. Data and Context -- 4. Structural Analysis of the Networks -- 5. Formation of Ties: Transitivity, Homophily and Immobility -- 6. Network Effects on Family Planning Decisions -- 7. Conclusion.


Submitted 1st March 2011 to fulfil the requirements of Doctor of Philosophy Bibliography: pages 252-263

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Economics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Melanie Beresford

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter Petocz


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Bhanu Bhatia 2011.






1 online resources ( 263 pages) illustrations (some colored), maps, charts, graphs

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