Toward a geography of engagement

Authors: Albert Acedo*, University of Waterloo, Tiago Oliveira, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Mijail Naranjo-Zolotov, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Marco Painho, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Topics: Environmental Perception, Applied Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: sense of place, social capital, civic engagement, smart city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The relationship between sense of place, social capital and civic engagement has been studied in different disciplines. However, their association has been less examined, and their spatial relationship has been analyzed even less in the smart city context. Although information and communication tools are offering new possibilities, citizens are not aware of their common spatialities regarding citizens’ cognitions, feelings and behaviors toward city places (i.e., sense of place) and meaningful geographic human relationships (i.e., social capital). This study contributes to the better understanding of the (spatial) relationship between these three concepts (i.e., sense of place, social capital and civic engagement) that, from a non-spatial perspective, seem to be highly related but; how does their spatial relationship infer citizen participation? Using spatial data collected through a web map-based application, we adopt structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques to assess the repercussion that sense of place has on social capital and how the latter affects civic engagement. We find that sense of place is significant and positively correlated with social capital, while the latter also significantly explains civic engagement at the individual level. Furthermore, we observe a better statistical performance in almost all the cases when a spatial relationship between the three constructors exists. Our research leverages SEM techniques, Geographic Information Science methods, and participatory methodology to show the spatial connection between sense of place and social capital to explain civic engagement. Deriving and quantifying such meaning allows us to highlight the importance of their spatial dimension in city processes such as participation.

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