Social Capital in Metropolitan Playgroups : A Qualitative Analysis of Early Parental Interactions

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours


School of Psychology and Social Science


Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Bronwyn Harman


Community Playgroups are programs aimed at young families, that enable the creation of social capital resources by providing opportunities for new parents to network and access peer support (Jackson, 2011). Social capital refers to parents’ abilities to rely on their social contacts to access different types of support (Fielden & Gallagher, 2008). However, there are currently insufficient research on community playgroups in Australia, and the extent to which new parents feel supported through their playgroup involvement (Dadich, 2008). This research sought to study early parental interactions in community playgroups and the ways by which such interactions reflect parents’ social capital. Interpretative Phenomenology was utilised in order to understand the lived experience of parents in the context of playgroup involvement, and how their social exchange impacted on their subjective evaluation of social support. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen parents who were recruited through metropolitan playgroups across Perth, Western Australia. Verbatim transcriptions of voice-recorded interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Data gave rise to three main themes which were, ‘getting together’, ‘generating stocks of SC’ and ‘missing out’. The themes show that parents were able to get-by and get-ahead through bridging and bonding social capital resources. However, the data also shows that there were many instances where parents felt excluded, judged and gendered. The study concludes that although community playgroups have the capacity to assist young families by providing peer support and social resources, vulnerable and socially disadvantaged individuals may continue to feel isolated, excluded or left out. A number of policy implications can be drawn from this study, including consideration for employing support workers, and enhancing the community playgroup model.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to current ECU staff and students. Email request to library@ecu.edu.au

Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.