Place and city: toward a geography of engagement

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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. This study contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between these three concepts (i.e., sense of place, social capital and civic engagement). Furthermore, we analyze the crucial role that the spatial relationship between them plays. 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 cases when a spatial relationship between the three constructs exists. Our research leverages SEM techniques, Geographic Information Science (GISc) 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02261
Number of pages14
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2019


  • Civic engagement
  • Geographies of engagement
  • Geography
  • Sense of place
  • Social capital
  • Spatial dimension


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