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Title: The role of cultural events in promoting community cohesion : the case of two socially deprived areas in the Maltese Islands
Authors: Cutajar, JosAnn
Vella, John
Keywords: Social capital (Sociology) -- Malta -- Case studies
Social participation
Vittoriosa (Malta) -- Social conditions
Cospicua (Malta) -- Social conditions
Ethnology -- Research -- Malta
Community participation -- Research -- Malta
Feasts, Religious -- Social aspects -- Malta
Issue Date: 2008-09
Citation: Cutajar, J., & Vella, J. (2008) The role of cultural events in promoting community cohesion: the case of two socially deprived areas in the Maltese Islands. EUTO Conference 2008. Attractions and Events as catalysts for regeneration and social change. The University of Nottingham. Nottingham, UK (Vol. 2425).
Abstract: Patron saint feasts in the Maltese Islands help localities reiterate their idiosyncratic and that is why they are still popular in spite of the encroaching effect of secularization. This paper sets out of find out whether these types of cultural events promote social cohesion in two localities in the South of Malta, namely Bormla and Birgu. For this purpose, data was elicited through the use of ethnographic research coupled with interviews with community leaders as well as key contacts. The data elicited from primary and secondary data was analyzed through the use of social capital theory. Social cohesion is said to be facilitated by civic participation. Civic participation in the organisations dealing with feast preparation was used as a litmus test to find out the level of civic participation, the type of social capital utilized in both localities, and how successful these were in bringing about community cohesion. The participants concluded that feasts might not help to socially integrate disparate groups within the community. The leaders in Birgu realized that they needed to come up with alternative cultural events and involve rival social groups in their preparation. These events proved to be successful on two fronts: they helped create a more inclusive communal identity and in the process, helped in the regeneration of Birgu. Birgu came out as a high trust society, where the diffusion of innovation was facilitated by evidence of both bridging and linking social capital. Poverty and deprivation served to limit formal and informal interactions in Bormla, and seemed to affect the community leader’s capacity to act.
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