Effects of open spaces on the interpersonal level of resident social capital: a comparative case study of urban neighborhoods in Guangzhou, China
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China has experienced the rapid socioeconomic change that leads to the evolution of social and physical environment in urban neighborhoods. In recently built neighborhoods, residents lack mutual trust and a sense of community; the neighborhood open spaces have been improved but still do not function well for developing resident social capital. Social capital is a comprehensive concept for evaluating community development. The purpose of this study was to evaluate residentsÂ social capital in ChinaÂs urban context and to examine the relationships between social capital and neighborhood open spaces. The review of literature identified five interpersonal factors of social capital: social network, trust, security and safety, belongingness, and engagement, which were related to neighborhood physical environment. In the city of Guangzhou, two neighborhoods were selected as study fields and two hundred and fifty subjects were randomly selected in each neighborhood to participate in a questionnaire survey. More than 75% subjects returned questionnaires. Ten residents of them then participated in semi-structured interviews. Observation recorded residentsÂ activities in open spaces. Data were analyzed by statistical methods and domain analysis strategy. The results of statistical examinations demonstrated that residents living with a large number of neighborhood open spaces had higher degrees of social capital than residents lacking open spaces; residents using open spaces frequently developed higher degrees of social capital than residents using open spaces less; residents who were satisfied with their open spaces held higher degrees of social capital than those who were not satisfied with open spaces. Semi-structured interviews explained that well-designed open spaces attracted inhabitants to participate in outdoor activities, which encouraged social interaction among residents, enhanced their mutual trust, expanded social network, and strengthened belongingness to neighborhood. However, open spaces were found not to obviously improve resident engagement. Observations unveiled that a highly versatile and flexible outdoor space was the favorite place for residents of all ages.
Kang, Bin (0001). Effects of open spaces on the interpersonal level of resident social capital: a comparative case study of urban neighborhoods in Guangzhou, China. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from