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Hans Westlund and Johan P. Larsson

This introductory chapter treats four issues: general relationships between social capital and space; what regional development is; the importance of social capital for regional development; and a summary of the other chapters. The first section contains a discussion on the relationships between social capital and space, distance, barriers and spatial hierarchies on how social capital is affected by, but also has an impact on these phenomena. The next section deals with and problematizes the question of what regional development is in forms of economic outcomes, well-being and various aspects of sustainability. Based on the view that social capital is created in all sectors of society as well as between them, the third section discusses which forms of social capital are most important for regions’ development. One important conclusion is that ‘maximum’ social capital seldom is the best solution. Instead, the best social capital for regional development can be described as optimum combinations of homogeneity and heterogeneity, bonding and bridging links and different ‘vintages’ of networks, norms and values. Finally, the chapters of the book are summarized.

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Edited by Hans Westlund and Johan P. Larsson

The role of social capital in regional development is a multifaceted topic which is studied all over the world using various methods and across numerous disciplines. It has long been evident that social capital is important for regional development, however, it is less clear how this works in practice. Do all types of social capital have the same effects and are different kinds of regions impacted in the same way? This book is the first to offer an overview of this rapidly expanding field of research and to thoroughly analyse the complex issue of social capital and regional development.
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Johan Klaesson, Johan P. Larsson and Therese Norman

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Martin Andersson, Johan P. Larsson and Joakim Wernberg

Social capital has often been conceived of as a set of theories more apt for the analysis of rural areas than for metropolitan cities. Yet cities are teeming with interaction and other network phenomena, analyzed in the urban economics literature on social interactions. In this chapter, we bridge these strands of theories by emphasizing link directness (depth of connections) and link thickness (frequency of interaction) as key characteristics for the analysis of social capital in urban and rural settings alike. We demonstrate how social capital and ‘network-of-network’ effects of thin links (abundant in cities) can strongly mimic effects of agglomeration economies. Our framework maintains that previous emphases on isolating the effects of agglomeration effects on economic outcomes should be complemented by an understanding of how effects of social capital pertain, for example, to attitudes to entrepreneurship and industriousness. We suggest that these effects may be understood through the following mechanisms: Peer effects and Learning, and Imitation and Emulation.

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Amy Rader Olsson, Hans Westlund and Johan P. Larsson