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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From participation to social cohesion : an analysis of variation in the development of social capital in coastal British Columbia Legun, Katharine


Social capital refers to the relationships between people that are productive: it can provide people with access to resources, ease transactions, and facilitate social and economic development at the community level. It has been conceptualized as both associations between people and attitudes of trust and cooperation that enable ties to be productive. Within communities, these attitudes underlie social cohesion, which can be defined as social integration and a propensity to cooperate and contribute to the community. Moreover, it is interaction and social engagement that develops social capital by creating and maintaining relationships and fostering social cohesion. This thesis presents an analysis of the development of social capital in coastal British Columbia by considering how the social participation of community members generates socially cohesive attitudes. Moreover, I empirically consider how this relationship varies for different people in different places and across two different types of participation. Formal participation refers to engagement in structured and organized group activities, such as rotary clubs or sports teams, while informal activities are casual irregular and often spontaneous, such as visiting with friends. Using a series of multiple linear regressions on survey data from rural coastal communities in British Columbia, I test how the relationship between these two types of participation and social cohesion varies according to people’s socio-demographic characteristics or the communities in which they live. Not only does this research consider who develops social capital in this way, but also whether the relationship between participation and social cohesion differ along these social lines. The results show that processes of social capital development reflect the characteristics and social environments of community members in coastal British Columbia. The variability shows that social capital development is embedded within particular contexts in ways can lead to inequalities in social capital.

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