Research for this article was funded by an ESRC Studentship Award (PTA 030 2004 00186). I would like to thank Haleh Afshar, Sylvia Chant and Kathy Baker for invaluable comments and encouragement, and the two anonymous reviewers for very helpful feedback.
Capitalizing on Women's Social Capital? Women-Targeted Microfinance in Bolivia
Article first published online: 25 JUN 2010
© International Institute of Social Studies 2010
Development and Change
Volume 41, Issue 3, pages 495–515, May 2010
How to Cite
Maclean, K. (2010), Capitalizing on Women's Social Capital? Women-Targeted Microfinance in Bolivia. Development and Change, 41: 495–515. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2010.01649.x
- Issue published online: 25 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 25 JUN 2010
Both social capital and microfinance are central to mainstream development interventions, and both are predicated on the need to recognize the importance of social factors in development. Microfinance institutions mobilize social capital in the form of a group guarantee, and aim to support the development of sustainable financial institutions and income generation. Women are targeted in part because of the effectiveness of their social capital as collateral. However, although social capital is assumed to support development and income generation, the precise dynamics involved in this are rarely explored. This article examines the construction of social capital and its relationship to income generation, based on a long-term ethnographic study of village life in rural Bolivia and the microfinance institution operating there. The author examines the complexity and gendered contradictions implied in the way that social capital is generally viewed to support economic development. It is suggested that the way microfinance institutions use social capital to support sustainable financial institutions and income generation does not always reflect the way that women's networks support access to resources and ultimately, economic development.