Building connections: political participation, social capital and the built environment in St. John's, Newfoundland

Smee, Joshua (2016) Building connections: political participation, social capital and the built environment in St. John's, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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How does where we live affect how we live? Do characteristics of the built environment affect the civic and social lives of the people living there? This study examines these questions at the neighbourhood scale in the Canadian city of St. John's, Newfoundland. To do so, it combines data from a survey measuring respondents' social capital (defined as a combination of social participation, social trust, and civic participation) and a "built environment audit" that records the built characteristics of each respondent's neighbourhood. The study finds a significant, positive relationship between the walkability of a neighbourhood and the social capital of the people living there. This relationship is driven primarily by the effect of the built environment on voluntary participation and relationships with neighbours. The study also tests several methods of measuring walkability, and finds that an objective measure based on street geometry is the best predictor of social capital.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 11758
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 123-128).
Keywords: social capital, urban planning, built environment, walkability, neighbourhoods, municipal politics, Newfoundland and Labrador, quantitative research, political participation, social participation
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Political Science
Date: January 2016
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador--St.John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Social capital (Sociology)--Newfoundland and Labrador--St.John's; Political participation--Newfoundland and Labrador--St.John's; Social participation--Newfoundland and Labrador--St.John's

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