Relationships between people are known to impact our quality of life, and the cohesive nature of those relationships can be evaluated by the time and money that people put into them. In this book, Lorna Zischka explores ways in which a person's willingness to 'give' both reflects and generates social cohesion.
Zischka draws together two distinct bodies of literature; on social capital and on generosity, as well as analysing UK data to reveal the strong links between 'giving' patterns and community cohesion. Reacting to the needs and interests of others brings communities together, building positive relationships and enabling people to work together more effectively.
Welfare policy can be improved by directing attention to the relationships that underlie 'giving', and as such this book is an important read for community development practitioners and policy makers. Finding out if a programme stimulates more people to 'give' represents a measurable goal that has a tangible impact on social cohesion. This is also a valuable read for social science scholars wishing to explore the feedback loops between thriving communities and the act of 'giving'.
'It is about time that economists – and other social scientists – go beyond material aspects and seriously study interpersonal relationships such as giving and informal work. And Lorna Zischka does this by providing an excellent overview of the existing literature and by contributing important empirical analyses.'
– Bruno S. Frey, CREMA – Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, Switzerland
'There is growing recognition that quality of relationships is the key to personal well-being in terms of health, education and participation in society. So there is every reason for governments and NGOs to seek to 'nudge' people in the direction of strengthening their relationships. However, to justify public spending requires that outcomes can be measured. Lorna Zischka's ground-breaking book gives government decision-makers and NGO leaders a valuable tool towards the goal of measuring quality of relationships in families and communities so as to be able to assess the effectiveness of their interventions.'
– Michael Schluter, Chairman of Relational Research, UK
'At last, we have a book that connects the three important strands of social science literature: the quality of inter-personal relations and the wider community; people's social capital in terms of stocks and flows; and the growing literature on giving, generosity and altruism. The author brings much needed clarity and solid empirical evidence to what motivates people and makes for engaged communities, and, ultimately, a good life.'
– Helmut K. Anheier, Hertie School of Governance and Heidelberg University, Germany
'A brilliant and thought-provoking book that should change the way social scientists and policy makers of all stripes do their work and understand the work that they do. For too long the study of social interactions has been impoverished by the cynical anthropological assumption of homo oeconomicus. In this book, full of insights and evidence, the author creatively explores the consequences on social cohesion and well-being stemming from the adoption of a relational perspective. The practice of gift as gratuitousness, by generating social capital and trust, makes better communities, and in so doing enhances life-satisfaction. The author explains why policies and business practices that ignore interpersonal relationships and prosocial motivation of people often fail. This original and interdisciplinary work will provide a fascinating read for researchers and student across a wide range of fields.'
– Stefano Zamagni, University of Bologna and Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe, Italy
Lorna Zischka, University of Reading, UK.