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 12: Collective actors as driving forces for mobilizing social capital in a local community: what can be learned for health promotion?

Malin Eriksson, Lars Dahlgren and Maria Emmelin


‘Social capital’ – broadly defined as ‘social networks, the reciprocity that arises from them, and the value of these for achieving mutual goals’ (Schuller et al., 2000, p. 1) – has become an attractive concept for local community development, since it may provide local communities with the connectedness and trust that is needed to face new challenges and solve collective problems (Gittell and Vidal, 1998). Within public health, social capital has renewed interest in the social determinants of health. The concept is critically debated but still appealing as one potential key to explain social inequalities in health. A systematic review of the international literature up to 2006 (Kim et al., 2008) found a fairly consistent association between trust and associational membership (as indicators of social capital) and physical and self-rated health. These results have raised questions about how social capital may function for community health promotion. Harpham et al. (2002, p. 107) state: ‘One of the obvious next steps after examining the association between social capital and health is for intervention studies to examine whether social capital can be increased/ strengthened and, if so, whether this increased social capital leads to better health’.

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