Well-being in Developing Countries
Edited by Jonathan Isham, Thomas Kelly and Sunder Ramaswamy
Chapter 10: Social Capital and Environmental Management: Culture, Perceptions and Action Among Slum Dwellers in Bangkok
Amrita Daniere, Lois M. Takahashi and Anchana NaRanong1 Research on the general role of social capital in economic development has blossomed in the last decade, but few studies have examined the connection between social capital and environmental management. Improving environmental management is especially important for low-income groups, which are disproportionately affected by the environmental impacts of rapid development (Cairncross et al., 1990). Central government agencies in developing countries often lack the capacity to manage or regulate environmental problems. However, government agencies may be able to create an enabling setting that allows local residents, communities, and organizations to devise and implement community-based environmental management mechanisms. In urban slums, indirect governmental action can effectively encourage local mobilization that improves public services such as electricity, safe drinking water, public toilets, and drains (Douglass 1992, 1995, 1998; Douglass and Zoghlin, 1994; Douglass et al., 1994; Majumdar, 1995). In rapidly developing metropolitan areas, low-income groups differ significantly by geographic locale, tenure security, their relationships to other lowincome settlements, and other sociodemographic and environmental variables. This chapter analyses how the capacity of low-income groups for collective environmental action is affected by these variables, focusing on the role of social capital. In particular, using data from household interviews in five slum communities in Bangkok, Thailand, the chapter explores the connections between environmental problems, health behaviours and beliefs, and forms of social capital. The chapter also presents evidence that the differences in environmental management among these communities critically depend on social integration and linkages with external authorities. Accordingly,...
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