Social capital is the use of informal networking to secure access to resources and opportunities. Often identified as an asset for offsetting deficiencies in societies, research on the phenomena is limited. This paper describes a qualitative study using focus groups with young adult Emeriti women representing three social-economic groups who were interviewed by the author in order to explore the topic of social capital, specifically a form of social capital defined by the Arabic term “wasta”. The women discussed their experiences of how wasta persists regardless of social and religious laws forbidding its practice and how they might use it in their own futures. The focus groups had notable differences in their perceptions of wasta, but as women, they did not see themselves as having access to this form of social capital. The study findings indicate that for these participants wasta is perceived as a cultural paradox that intersects with gender and class as a social construction that reinforces patriarchal and class privilege.


Women and Social Capital, College Students and Social Class, Focus Groups, Ethnography


I wish to thank all of the women I had as students at Zayed University but specifically my three research assistants, Hanan, Sumaya, and Alyaa. For their interest in family studies, their commitment as students, their companionship and assistance in finding our commonalities as well as exploring our cultural differences.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




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