Growing Social Capital: Investigating the Relationship between Farmers' Markets and the Development of Community Support Networks in Ann Arbor, MI
Since the 1950's each generation of American citizen has engaged in less social interaction than the generation before, leading to a decline in social capital that has been, and continues to be, a contributing factor in the decline of the American City. In an effort to combat these declines this project utilized primary survey, informal interview, and participant observation methodologies to explore the potential development of urban public farmers' markets as an institutional space designed to encourage diverse social interaction, and therefore social capital, at the local level. While survey and interview results showed that market patrons are more apt to engage new individuals within the market space rather than nonfunctional public spaces, demographic and interview data suggests that social pressures and local government regulations limit the diversity of the public, restrict political action, and limit the spatial extent of social capital networks developed within the market space. While these constraints currently prevent the market from reaching its full potential as a social capital development tool, the data also suggests that the market space does serve a major role in the development of local community support networks and that the restructuring of market policies could allow for a more inclusive public to benefit from the market's social networking capability.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:social capital public space community development networks
Date of Publication:07/17/2009