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Conceptualising social capital : case studies of social capital inputs into housing Chan, Helen G.

Abstract

Social capital refers to material and symbolic resources that are accessed through social relationships and used for purposive actions. Conceptualising social capital as having four archetypal forms provides planners with an analytic and heuristic tool for considering the different resources that community and government actors bring to various projects and social endeavours. These forms of social capital are called bonding social capital (based on intra-community relationships), bridging social capital (based on extra-community relationships), institutional social capital (based on relationships established by the formal and informal institutions of society) and synergistic social capital (based on relationships between state and civil society actors). This quadripartite model of social capital was found to be useful in analysing the different socially embedded resources which were applied to housing initiatives for two distinct communities of people in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. One case looked at a seniors care home established for elderly Chinese people by a community-based organisation (CBO) known as the United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society (S.U.C.C.E.S.S.). The second case examined community housing for adults with developmental disabilities that was supported directly by family members and a CBO called Mainstream Association for Proactive Community Living (MAPCL) and indirectly by an informal group known as the Parents Support Group for Families of Mentally Handicapped Adults. In both cases, the housing initiative relied on resources that were accessed through the intra-community ties of people united by a common ethnicity or interest in supporting adults with developmental disabilities. Necessary inputs for developing and sustaining the housing initiatives were also found in extra-community ties with the wider community and internationally-based professional associations; relationships with government actors at the municipal, provincial and federal levels; and predictable societal relationships established by legislation and norms of behaviour. A four-part model of social capital additionally serves as a planning tool to identify a broader range of resources and possibilities for policy intervention and to remind planners they work with multiple publics, must adopt a critical approach to community involvement and coproduction and should encourage governments to be active in shaping the institutional environment and engaging with individuals and community groups.

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