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Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 365; doi:10.3390/su9030365

A Geographic Information System (GIS)-Based Analysis of Social Capital Data: Landscape Factors That Correlate with Trust

1
Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
2
Department of Sociology and Criminology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
3
College of Information Sciences and Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
4
Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 2 November 2016 / Revised: 24 February 2017 / Accepted: 24 February 2017 / Published: 2 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Ecosystems and Society in the Context of Big and New Data)
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Abstract

The field of community sociology has yielded rich insights on how neighborhoods and individuals foster social capital and reap the benefits of interpersonal relationships and institutions alike. Traditionally, institutions and cultural factors have been lauded as catalysts of community social life and cohesion. Yet, the built environment and configuration of the landscape, including infrastructure, amenities and population density, may also contribute to community social capital. In this article, we embedded zip code-level responses from Harvard University’s Saguaro Seminar’s 2006 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey with a geographic information system. Specifically, we correlated responses on residents’ general trust, trust of one’s neighbors, and trust of members of other racial groups with local urban environmental factors and infrastructural indicators such as housing and street conditions, land use, city form, amenity access (e.g., libraries and schools), home vacancy rates, and home value. We conducted these tests at the national level and for Rochester, NY, due to its many survey responses. We found that housing vacancies drive down levels of social trust, as captured by homeownership rates and tenure, yielding higher levels of social trust, and that certain urban facilities correlate with high trust among neighbors. Results can inform urban planners on the amenities that support sustainable community ties. View Full-Text
Keywords: social capital; urban planning; trust; community sociology; geographic information systems; community goods; built environment social capital; urban planning; trust; community sociology; geographic information systems; community goods; built environment
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rahimi, S.; Martin, M.J.R.; Obeysekere, E.; Hellmann, D.; Liu, X.; Andris, C. A Geographic Information System (GIS)-Based Analysis of Social Capital Data: Landscape Factors That Correlate with Trust. Sustainability 2017, 9, 365.

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