Grasby, D. and Zammit, C. and Pretty, G. and Bramston, P. (2005) Ready, set, go! using the 'community-readiness' method to engage social networks for sustainable natural resource management in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin. In: International Conference on Engaging Communities, 14-17 Aug 2005, Brisbane, Australia.
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The notion of ‘social capital’ has been the subject of considerable academic and general discussion since the concept was revived by Coleman, Putnam and others in the 1980s. The extent and efficacy of social networks are, it is argued, a crucial aspect of social capital. For the purpose of this study, it is the networks comprising natural resource management (NRM) systems that are the focus of attention. Research, using a methodology derived from the ‘community-readiness model’, has sought to examine the extent to which members of NRM groups engage in, and make use of, formal and informal social networks in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin region.
The ‘community readiness model’ is based on the premise that processes of an organisation are partly determined by its stage of development, or readiness, for accepting and implementing change. This ‘readiness’ is thought to be a major factor in determining whether or not an initiative is sufficiently supported and effectively implemented by an organisation, and whether organisations within a community are adequately developed to enable effective cooperation, mutual support and engagement.
In the context of the study undertaken, networks are primarily formed for the purpose of enhancing natural resource management. However, research indicates that they also serve a range of unintended ‘informal’ purposes that increase the level of ‘social capital’ within communities. This paper argues that the use of the community readiness model to examine social networks and social capital is an effective means of facilitating engagement and fostering beneficial change within communities.
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