Function of Social Capital in Sustainable Urban Development Case : Zahedan City (Iran)

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


Social capital is a concept which has almost recently entered into the literature of sociologyand during the last two decades, Robert Putnam and James Coleman have paid a particularattention to conceptualizing it. Putnam emphasizes the horizontal relationship among peopleand Coleman puts an emphasis on the vertical contribution and the relation among people incivil institutions as the creators of social capital on the one hand, and the products of socialcapital on the other hand .When it comes to the notion of sustainable development, social capital besides other capitalsis an essential part of the resources that a sustainable community requires, and is consideredas one of the engines of development.It needs to be considered that social capital has the characteristic of multiplication andreproduction. It means that through its proper utilization, there is an opportunity ofaggregating it. On contrary, leaving it not used leads to its destruction and diminishing. Thisfact shows an important difference between social capital and other forms of capital.The main objective of this research is to investigate the relationship between social capitaland sustainable development in the city of Zahedan the center of Sistan and Baluchestanprovince in Southern Iran. This province is located far away from the Capital city of Teheranand thus, compared to more central parts of the country, is considered as one of the leastdeveloped Iranian provinces.Zahedan on the one hand has an increasing population growth in a heterogeneous formconsisting of different cultures, social classes and ethnicities and on the other hand, theprovince shares the same border with two crisis stricken countries of Pakistan andAfghanistan, whose crises have great negative impacts on Zahedan such as social insecurity,economic instability, high risk of financial investment, and high rate of crime related tosmuggling and drug trafficking. The uncontrolled immigration of refugees and their dwellingin the most deprived parts of the city have resulted in conflict, weakened conformity coupledwith little sense of belonging, growth of formlessness in this area and also increase in povertyrate and marginalization. All of these problems created many obstacles in the way of theZahedan’s sustainable development. Thus sustainable development takes a new meaning withsocial capital. Knowing the indices such as public trust, participation and social awarenesscan play a significant role in increasing and decreasing social capital and sustainabledevelopment. According to the latest census, the population of this city was 567449 peoplewhich included the main ethnic groups of Baluch (48%), Zaboli (41%), Birjandi (7%) and others (4%). For the analysis of the above mentioned indices in this research, 183 peoplewere selected based on the proportion of each ethnic group through random sampling and thenecessary information was collected through using questionnaires and it was analyzedthrough using the Pearson Test in SPSS software. The results are as follows:

The average level of each of the main components of social capital, namely publictrust, participation and awareness is low among the citizens of Zahedan.

There is a positive correlation between the low level of social capital indices and the weak situation of sustainable development in the city of Zahedan.

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