The aim of the article is to present a perspective on the manner and extent to which churches may be considered as an important stock of social capital for promoting social development outcomes in selected communities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Taking the recently presented policy outline on social capital formation in this province as the contextual framework for analysis and reflection, the results of recently executed demographic and socio-empirical research are utilised in particular to advance a perspective on churches. It is argued in conclusion that churches and other faith-based organisations in the researched communities have an important strategic significance for a social capital formation agenda, despite their apparent lack of progressive social praxis. Their comparative advantage over other institutions, the considerable levels of trust invested in them and the manner in which they inspire activities of voluntary outreach, caring and social service are highlighted as special features of the churches.
The aim of this paper is to stimulate the theme and field of the Bible and computers which had been initiated by the Association Internationale Bible et Informatique over the last two decades. The author argues that in the context of Africa and the Third World this theme and field should lead socially minded, computer skilled scholars and readers of the Bible to concern themselves with the issue of development. Following the distinction between the three publics of theology (the university, the community of faith and society at large) in current hermeneutical and public theological debates, it is proposed that the active involvement of this group must be understood essentially in terms of the mode of the third public. Beyond the emphasis on the formal terrain of public policy-making, it is argued that the idea and political world of the new social movements (peace, human rights, women, environment, democracy, culture, people-centred development, etc.) is particularly relevant here. This identification of the new social movements leads the author to emphasise the analytic and strategic framework presented by the new communication perspective in the social sciences. It is indicated how writers of this perspective present a social theoretical understanding that can be taken as most appropriate (authentic) in terms of the dynamics that determine contemporary global society, and a strategic development mobilisation around the new social movements and a new civil society in embryo. A dynamics and strategic mobilisation which the author finds most appropriately defined in Manuel Castells’ conceptuallisation of the ‘Network Society’, the paper concludes by proposing six modes of involvement which ought to give important guidance to socially minded, computer skilled scholars and readers of the Bible in their endeavour to promote development in this society.
The aim of this article is to give prominence to the rights of children as a new agenda for Practical Theology in South Africa. Adopting a distinctly contextual approach, the article takes a critical look at the problematic situation of children in present-day South Africa and then focuses attention on the emergence of a children's rights agenda, both internationally and in South African society. A discussion of these aspects leads the authors to address pertinently the issue of Christian theology's complementary role in the children's rights agenda, which, however, is problematised in the light of theology's one-sided and limited involvement thus far in the issue of children. It is argued that a practical theological paradigm – in which a praxis of liberation, change and transformation is of prime importance – should reflect an active involvement in the children's rights agenda. In the light of the special realities of South African society, the importance of meeting distinct contextual and hermeneutical challenges is stated as condition for an effective practical theological involvement in the problematics of the rights of children.
<title> Abstract </title>This article offers a critical account of the turn in the religious social development debate in South Africa from its initial critical people-centred disposition to a preoccupation with pragmatic considerations, that is, its elaborated claim on the need for a formal religion-state partnership in the field of social development on the basis of the extensiveness and effectiveness of existing welfare and social development networks run by the religious sector. After presenting a brief overview of the initial social development debate, the article unpacks and discusses the essential shift in the debate and the respective support that it has found in the idea of social capital and a selective reading of an American case study to sustain its pragmatic argument. Finally, the article looks beyond the current limitations in the debate and concludes with an argument for renewed critical engagement by the religious sector in South Africa by which it would (1) advance a moral debate about social structure and direction, and (2) become a rigorous exponent itself of the social development paradigm on the level of actual implementation and empowerment 'from below.'
This article was written to contribute towards developing a suitable conceptual framework for meeting the overarching research aim of developing a more profound empirically informed interpretation of the manner and extent to which religious ritual could be valued as a source of social capital formation in the South African context. With this in mind, the article first explores the concept of social capital in the light of the threefold distinction between bonding, bridging and linking forms of social capital. Secondly, from the vantage point of such exploration the connection with religion is made more pointedly. By tapping into the more recently invented notion of religious social capital, the article shows how this concept is today used meaningfully to advance a twofold perspective: on religion as a special repository of social capital, but also on the limitations of religion and its institutions in meeting the social capital needs of communities and the wider society. Finally, from the viewpoint of eliciting important conceptual value from the notion of religious social capital, the case of religious ritual as a very necessary yet untapped element in the contemporary research focus on religion and social capital formation is presented. In particular, an argument about religious ritual as the consistently missing element in this research focus is put forward and given greater substance through the identification of two pointers from the literature that can be deemed useful in starting to address this lacuna.
Achieving ecologically sustainable societies necessitates fundamental social and cultural transformations. Religion has the potential to foster the required paradigm shifts in mindsets, behaviour and policy. Moreover, in many religious communities there is increasing engagement with questions of environment, climate change and ecological sustainability. This has led to an increasing corpus of literature engaging with the nexus between religion, environment, development and sustainability. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of recent ecological trends in religious traditions as well as the literature on religion and sustainable development and on religion and ecology. While an ecological turn is evident in many religious communities and has been well documented in the literature, it emerges that more research is necessary on the way that this phenomenon manifests in environmental action at individual and institutional levels.
The article is a presentation of a South African research project in which researchers in the fields of ritual-liturgical studies and social development are collaborating to explore the role of religious ritual in the kinds of social capital formation that have a direct significance and implication for alleviating poverty and promoting social development at grassroots level. Focusing on Christian congregations in poor socio-economic contexts in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the aim of the research is to understand social capital formation through the lens of religious ritual. The research project builds on the hypothesis that social capital has a role to play in the related goals of poverty alleviation and social development, something which it seeks to conceptualise and explore in greater detail. Within this framework the discussion explores and contextualises the conceptual link between social capital and the practice of religious ritual in present-day South African society by drawing on existing research and theoretical debates, both nationally and internationally. This enables the authors to present some additional notes on the key theoretical, conceptual and methodological points of departure of the undertaken project. These are followed by a number of concluding observations about the modes of investigation and action steps through which the research topic is currently being further developed.
This article introduces Religion & Development as a new transdisciplinary journal focusing on the nexus between religion and development. It outlines the motivation for establishing the new periodical along three central themes: the move towards sustainable development as dominant development paradigm; the reinvigoration of the post-development debate; and the emerging academic, policy and practice field of religion and development. The discussion proceeds to highlight the envisaged task of the journal as well as its transdisciplinary and collaborative span. Moreover, it delineates Religion & Development’s core editorial policies, before setting the scene for the contributions of the journal’s first issue.