Abstract: Social capital refers to the institutions, relationships and norms that shape the quality and quantity of social interactions within a community. In the case of public health, practitioners have argued that greater attention to the social dimensions of health would improve understanding of the complexities of health issues and help provide better services for marginalised groups. Debates about social capital – particularly related to encouragement of women’s social networks – are illustrated by looking at donor-funded initiatives to establish women’s self-help groups, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The paper uses data from Young Lives work conducted to describe patterns of maternal social capital. The paper explores the association between maternal social capital and chronic malnutrition in children aged six to 18 months, and considers policy implications. The authors also highlight a number of important areas for further research, including understanding the (in)efficacy of community approaches to poverty alleviation.
Keywords: India, Andhra Pradesh, social capital, nutrition, well-being, health