Helping Citizens Help Themselves : Neighborhood Improvement Programs and the Impact of Social Networks, Trust, and Norms on Neighborhood-Oriented Forms of Participation

H.T. Lelieveldt

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    This article analyzes the relationship between social capital and neighborhood-oriented forms of participation within the context of an innovative Dutch neighborhood improvement program. On the basis of a survey among 307 residents, the author studies the link between three dimensions of social capital (neighborliness, trust in neighbors, and sense of duty) and three neighborhood oriented forms of participation: informal governance, the conversion of specific neighborhood problems into action, and participation in the program. Neighborliness and a sense of duty are positively related to the various forms of participation, whereas the impact of trust is somewhat more ambiguous. A subsequent analysis of the residents’ proposals shows that although some of them explicitly refer to the importance of social capital, the bulk of their plans simply demand resources (money, personnel, or policies) to address concrete issues. The author concludes that social capital is an important facilitator of people’s capacity to prevent and solve such problems themselves but that at the same time a whole range of problems still needs to be addressed through direct governmental action.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)531-551
    JournalUrban affairs review
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • IR-60144
    • Social Capital
    • civic participation
    • urban politics
    • neighborhood improvement programs
    • Political participation

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