Pierson, John and Gill, Santokh Singh (2005) Believing and Belonging: Faith Institutions and Social Capital. In: Proceedings from the Community, Work and Family Conference 2005. Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester. ISBN 1-900139-91-X

Recent UK government policy has increasingly sought to make use of the presumed capacity building potential of faith institutions, a potential that can be leveraged by the neighbourhoods in which they are embedded. Faith institutions are thought to promote ‘social capital’, that is trust, shared values and effective social networks, a contribution that is all the more critical in the depleted social fabric of poor urban neighbourhoods. There are concerns, however, that faith institutions deploy their social capital in differentiated, not to say unequal ways in relation to women, gays and lesbians. We have sought to look more closely at these issues and at the nature of the social capital deployed. Drawing on interviews with lay persons and clergy from a range of faith institutions in a deprived, multi-faith urban districts in the United Kingdom we discuss how those institutions’ social capital – their social networks and ‘shared norms’ - impact on adherents and the wider locality.

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