Social Capital and Rural Development in the Knowledge Society
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Social Capital and Rural Development in the Knowledge Society

Edited by Hans Westlund and Kiyoshi Kobayashi

Social capital is often considered a key factor for local development. This book analyzes the role of social capital for rural areas’ survival and development in the current age of metropolitan growth – an era in which urban is the norm and where rural areas must adapt to this new situation and build innovative urban-rural relations.
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Chapter 3: Joint facilities, improvement districts, clubs and commons: towards a taxonomy of institutionalised social capital

Lars Westin and Johanna Zola


Associations for the management of joint assets may be seen both as producers of club goods and as an institutionalised structure of, often local, social capital. Joint assets are owned jointly by a set of otherwise independent actors such as property owners, firms, various organisations, or households. In this chapter we discuss a class of joint assets consisting of those with a geographical extension such as road networks, water and waste systems, eco-systems, golf courses, harbours, common house properties, recreational assets, heritage sites, and so on. Our aim is to identify their attributes and to develop a deeper understanding of certain properties inherent in such associations. While identifying their central properties, we develop a taxonomy of associations for the management of geographically extended joint assets. Key properties of our taxonomy are “length of commitment”, “level of voluntarism”, “degree of visible and formalised structure” as well as “degree of public sector involvement”, especially with respect to involvement of the municipality. In this context, it also becomes interesting to investigate the spatial distribution of different associations. With data from Sweden, we are able to uncover the uneven spatial distribution of these associations in a rural-urban dimension. A question then raised is why the sparsely populated countryside is overrepresented among some types of associations but seems not to have made use of the wider arsenal of management associations available?

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