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Community Participation: Using Social Network Analysis to Improve Developmental Benefits


  • Nancy Holman

    (Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, England)


Current British government policy leans heavily toward a participatory approach to urban development. The alleged benefits range from the growth of trust and social capital to better policy delivery and implementation involving a greater range of actors in the policy process. Yet, in many cases, poorly carried out partnership and participatory efforts can produce outcomes directly opposite to the benefits listed above. The author examines participation as a structural phenomenon and in doing so offers insights into how relationships could be strengthened in order to avoid these negative outcomes. Social network analysis is used to examine the structural relationships found within an urban redevelopment project in Portsmouth, England. Through the application of these measures, a number of relational patterns emerged which were not conducive to participation and left community groups feeling overwhelmed and underrepresented. The author concludes by noting how this technique could be used not only to highlight network imbalances, as seen in the case study, but also to offer community groups proactive advice in developing their network ties and communication structures, thus improving their overall position within the network and helping to deliver better levels of trust and social capital to the process.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy Holman, 2008. "Community Participation: Using Social Network Analysis to Improve Developmental Benefits," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 26(3), pages 525-543, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:26:y:2008:i:3:p:525-543

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    Cited by:

    1. Denise Baden & Swarna Prasad, 2016. "Applying Behavioural Theory to the Challenge of Sustainable Development: Using Hairdressers as Diffusers of More Sustainable Hair-Care Practices," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 335-349, January.
    2. Eduardo Ivan Palavicini-Corona, 2015. "Institutional context for local economic development in Mexico, 1990-2015. A need for change?," ERSA conference papers ersa15p180, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Ainurul Rosli & Federica Rossi, 2014. "Explaining the gap between policy aspirations and implementation: The case of university knowledge transfer policy in the United Kingdom," Working Papers 20, Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research, revised Dec 2014.
    4. repec:zbw:espost:182015 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gianluigi Guido & Christian Rizzo & M. Irene Prete & Annamaria Cazzarò & Giovanni Pino, 2016. "Network analysis of local territorial systems in the Salento region, Italy," RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA', FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(1), pages 83-101.

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