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'I realised that I wasn't alone' : the views and experiences of young carers from a social capital perspective

Barry, Monica (2011) 'I realised that I wasn't alone' : the views and experiences of young carers from a social capital perspective. Journal of Youth Studies, 14 (5). pp. 523-539. ISSN 1367-6261

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Abstract

The concept of social capital is very much an 'adult' concept, created by adults for adults, with children as the passive recipients of, primarily, parental social capital. The concept has been broken down into three particular subcategories - bonding (getting by), bridging (getting on) and linking (getting around). However, these subcategories equally do not relate readily to children and young people nor to different groups of young people. Young carers, for example, are a hidden population and their circumstances are relatively unknown, not least in terms of their social networks and access to social capital within the confines of their caring role. This article draws on a research study of 20 young carers in Scotland to explore the views and experiences of this particular group about their social networks and experiences of relationships with others, such as the family, friends and teachers. It concludes that young carers tend to keep their friends, family, and community networks separate from each other, and coupled with their perceived resilience and desire for self-sufficiency, this separation and protection of their individual social networks may result in reduced access to social capital in terms of getting on rather than getting by.