International Development Planning Review

Social capital and urban environments in Southeast Asia: Lessons from settlements in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City

International Development Planning Review (2005), 27, (1), 21–58.

Abstract

At its core, social capital research assumes that all communities may contribute to superior governance given enhanced social connections, trust and reciprocity. While researchers and policy makers have looked to social capital as a solution to varying local governance challenges, there still remain significant questions about how social capital may be translated into concrete outcomes. This paper focuses on the relationship between social networks and community connections in urban environments in Southeast Asia to examine whether communities with strong social capital are more able to participate in projects designed to improve environmental management in two of the region's most polluted cities, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, especially in marginalised and low-income neighbourhoods. A comparative analysis of household survey data focuses on the relationship between income and community participation and develops an index comprised of different dimensions of social capital. The findings imply that there may be more possibility for residents to use and make available communal resources for environmental improvements where social integration and social capital linkages combine with some minimum socioeconomic status. If this is true, then an obvious role for planners and policy makers would be to think creatively about how to motivate and facilitate community action, e.g. through education, seed projects and opportunities to work with NGOs and government agencies to create tangible change within cities.

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Author details

Daniere, Amrita

Takahashi, Lois

NaRanong, Anchana

Lan, Van Thi Ngoc