Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The spatial dimension of social capital

Rutten, Roel and Westlund, Hans and Boekema, Frans (2009): The spatial dimension of social capital. Published in: European Planning Studies , Vol. 18, No. 6 : pp. 863-871.

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Abstract

Social capital pertains to the social relations between humans, and since these social relations have a spatial dimension, so too does social capital. However, the spatial dimension of social capital has received little attention in the literature so far. Even in a globalizing world where electronic and virtual communication have the potential to defeat the need for geographical proximity, it is still relevant to consider the spatial dimension of social capital. After all, human beings exist most prominently in real rather than in virtual space. This special issue undertakes an inquiry into the spatial dimension of social capital from an explorative perspective. It aims to further theoretical and empirical understanding of the spatial dimension of social capital. As editors we recognize that the debate on social capital is still ongoing in the literature and that it is fed from different, sometimes conflicting perspectives. Therefore, the spatial dimension of social capital can only be conceptualized in the light of these different perspectives, which necessitates an explorative approach. Nonetheless, the various contributions of this special issue allow several conclusions that are valuable to the ongoing discussion on social capital and its spatial dimension.

In the first part of this introductory paper, we discuss social capital from a conceptual angle, as we distinguish between two key approaches (the “structuralist” and “interactionist” approaches). We then argue how these approaches may be helpful to the understanding of the spatial dimension of social capital. In the second part, we introduce the various contributions and explain how they contribute to the aim of this special issue.

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