Reading: Saving Groups and Social Structure in a Rural Village in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka


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Saving Groups and Social Structure in a Rural Village in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka


Rika Masuda

The University of Tokyo, JP
About Rika
Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
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The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to analyse how the activities of selfhelp group (SHG)-type ‘Saving Groups’, a type of microfinance, have changed the social structure of a village in rural Sri Lanka and (2) to evaluate whether these activities have reached the poorest of the village as microfinance sometimes fails to include the least privileged. To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the researcher surveyed a whole village in Polpithigama Divisional Secretariat Division, Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka, where ‘Saving Groups’ have been active for a long time under the auspices of a non-government organisation. The implementing organisation of the ‘Saving Groups’ claims that exclusion does not exist in the village as it has tried to carefully include the poorest of the village during the formation of the ‘Saving Groups’. I used social network analysis to visualise the social structure of the village and conducted qualitative interviews of key informants. The survey results reveal that the structure of the village has changed as a result of the implementation of the studied interventions in the village. It was found that, although the poorest were unable to voice their opinions at meetings organised by the local community organisations, their financial situation improved as a result of the activities; their social position in the village improved and discrimination against them reduced. Nonetheless, there are two distinct geographic spaces in the village, and different castes live separately from one another. Because of these spaces, the lower caste had been excluded from availing of the services provided by ‘Saving Groups’ through their activities on a long-term basis. These effects were unforeseen and unintended by the implementing agency of the programme. The success of the activities has been confirmed by other surveys conducted by the author in this area of study.

How to Cite: Masuda, R. (2018). Saving Groups and Social Structure in a Rural Village in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Review, 3(2), 85–100. DOI:
Published on 01 Jun 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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