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Renascent social capital in Japanese communities: networks for building a sustainable society

Kusakabe, E.; (2011) Renascent social capital in Japanese communities: networks for building a sustainable society. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

For efforts to build ‘sustainable cities’, citizens’ broad and deep involvement is required in addition to an institutional incentive structure provided by central government. In Japan machizukuri (local community making) is a contemporary development in social movements which tries out various ways of sustainable-community making. This thesis explores the process of social capital accumulation in the Japanese context and investigates through machizukuri case studies: 1. whether active citizen participation makes a difference in the progress towards sustainability; 2. what role local government should play in the process, and 3. how it is possible to build a sustainable society by connecting the efforts of different localities. It concludes through qualitative and quantitative examination, using regression and network analysis, that involving citizens in policy and project development makes a difference in the level of achievement of sustainability goals. However, it suggests that the existence of social capital alone does not deliver as expected. Bonding social capital helps collective learning and solidarity creation within communities. Bridging social capital expands networks and helps information-flow between communities but may not necessarily lead to achievement of the common goal. To achieve sustainable development goals, bracing social capital is necessary to connect vibrant yet fragmented bonding and bridging social capital networks; it expedites goal sharing and resource flows among various communities, and makes the extent of goal achievement greater. By identifying the functions bracing social capital plays, the study suggests that social capital can operate for achieving a sustainable society not just in a closed community, as was suggested by Coleman (1988), but also in an open-type community. To start the process of achieving a sustainable society, there are roles for local government to play; creating an environment in which citizens empower themselves is one.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Renascent social capital in Japanese communities: networks for building a sustainable society
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Planning

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