Network capital, social networks, and travel: an empirical illustration from Concepción, Chile
Abstract. The recent interest in the role of transport in social interactions has been partly motivated by the hope of achieving a better understanding of the role that transport plays in network capital, or the resources that people can gather from their social networks. Despite the relevancy of this question for policy, little empirical work has been done to elucidate this relationship. This paper illustrates a method of data collection and analysis, using the social networks approach to assess the role of transport in social support, both emotional and material. The personal networks of two neighbourhoods in Concepción, Chile, with different income levels, are compared, focusing on the role of car ownership in network capital, and the relevance of the time and space characteristics of social contacts. The results suggest that having a car at home does not lead to homogeneous access to network capital, which depends heavily on the kind of social resource studied and the income context (neighbourhood) in which the individuals are embedded. The findings also underscore the need to treat social capital as a truly multidimensional concept and the usefulness of the personal networks approach for assessing these complex relationships. Keywords: travel behaviour, social networks, network capital
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