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Publication Detail
Is social capital higher in areas with a higher density of historic assets? Analyses of 11,112 adults living in England
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Mak HW, Gallou E, Fancourt D
  • Publisher:
    SAGE Publications
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Perspectives in Public Health
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    social capital, heritage engagement, Historic England, Index of Multiple Deprivation
  • Notes:
    © Royal Society for Public Health 2023. Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0) This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Aims: Previous evidence suggests that engagement with heritage such as visiting heritage sites provides benefits for people’s mental and social wellbeing, and helps to establish social capital. However, far less is known about whether living in areas of historic built environment also helps build social capital. Furthermore, it remains unclear how the association between historic built environment and social capital may vary across heritage engagement frequency and areas of deprivation levels. This study was therefore designed to explore the cross-sectional relationship between historic built environment and social capital. Methods: Analysis was based on three datasets: Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Study Waves 5 (2013/2015) and 6 (2014/2016), 2019 National Heritage List for England, and 2015 English Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). Ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions were applied to estimate the relationships between historic built environment (listed buildings, scheduled monuments, and registered parks and gardens) and social capital (personal relationships, social network support, civic engagement, and trust and cooperative norms). Results: We found that people living in places with greater historic built environment experienced higher levels of personal relationships, social network support, and civic engagement. However, these associations were attenuated once rurality was adjusted. Individuals living in areas of greater levels of historic built environment displayed higher levels of trust and cooperative norms, even after adjusting for all relevant covariates. Heritage engagement frequency was found to moderate the association between historic built environment and personal relationships. Similarly, IMD was also found to moderate the association between historic built environment and trust and cooperative norms. Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of neighbourhood environment in building social capital in communities. Particularly, areas with heritage assets may provide both socially inviting and aesthetically pleasing environments that could help strengthen community and restore pride in place.
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