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Family Matters No. 50 - June 1998

Social Exchanges Overview

Families, Communities, States and Markets
Ian Winter

Abstract

Economic, political and cultural changes are leading to a re shaping of the institutional supports for families. The flow of social exchanges between families, communities, states and markets is being restructured towards families becoming more self reliant and being able to self provide by drawing upon a civic life reinvigorated with social capital. In response to the emergence of a new socio institutional ensemble of support for families, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has designed a research program that aims to examine the attitudes and behaviours associated with the various patterns of social exchanges engaged in by families, and the implications of these for individual and family well being. The research is concerned with the role of the family as a social institution in the 21st century and the socio institutional arrangements that will support the best outcomes for families. This article focuses on the theme of social exchanges and social capital, situates the key research questions within the broad historical context of changes to family life and outlines the main aims of the program. Through its research in this area, the Institute aims to make sense of the past and present in order to provide greater certainty about factors affecting family stability and well being in the new millennium.

Economic, political and cultural changes are leading to a re shaping of the institutional supports for families. The flow of social exchanges between families, communities, states and markets is being restructured towards families becoming more self reliant and being able to self provide by drawing upon a civic life reinvigorated with social capital. In response to the emergence of a new socio institutional ensemble of support for families, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has designed a research program that aims to examine the attitudes and behaviours associated with the various patterns of social exchanges engaged in by families, and the implications of these for individual and family well being. The research is concerned with the role of the family as a social institution in the 21st century and the socio institutional arrangements that will support the best outcomes for families. This article focuses on the theme of social exchanges and social capital, situates the key research questions within the broad historical context of changes to family life and outlines the main aims of the program. Through its research in this area, the Institute aims to make sense of the past and present in order to provide greater certainty about factors affecting family stability and well being in the new millennium.

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