By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department
Social capital in cities is a set of social norms that are formed through the relationship between citizens and urban management and reduce the costs associated with interactions and communication between the two. Fukuyama defines social capital as the ability of individuals to work together to achieve common goals within a group and organization, and considers it as a tool for creating a citizen participation environment at various stages of project development. The concept of social capital was first introduced in a paper by Honey Fan in 1916, and was considerably addressed by various science experts after the 1980s. Studies show that citizens respond better facing social disadvantages in societies with high social capital and pursue a healthier lifestyle.
Urban development is one of the important phenomena of human life in the present era, so that this century is called the urban revolution century. With the spread of settlements in cities and the emergence of unprecedented social problems associated with this issue, such as the reduction of participation and social solidarity, urban management as the most important institution directly related to citizens, plays a major role in promoting the level of social capital of citizens.
For many years in urban settlements, diverse assets such as natural, physical, human and financial capital have been seriously considered by management, and at present, social capital and its role in the cohesion of the relationship between citizens and relations between citizens with organizations and institutions have also come to the fore. Undeniably, urban management is responsible for managing urban capital in all respects. In spite of the fact that the lack of physical capital is described as the main factor of lack of development in many cases, experience has shown that the existence of a reliable social capital can eliminate many of the barriers to development at all times, especially in crisis situations. Thus, simultaneous attention to physical and social capital in cities is the basis for the realization of urban justice, and this issue has been given new attention by experts in modern urban development and in creating urban space as a social product. In other words, in a civilized city, which consists of the main elements including the citizen, urban space and urban management, the preservation and development of social capital is an essential element for promoting community health. Such capital is the result of mutual social interaction, mutual trust, sense of collective identity and social groups that urban management is required to provide the prerequisite for its realization. Social capital creates the basis for establishing rules among citizens and society, which sets their expectations, and, while regulating individual and social behaviors, results in participation of citizens in society.
Today, in developed societies, large and small cities are managed independent of any organization or non-organic institution. In other words, cities are developed and managed according to the needs of citizens in all directions. In such societies, social capital, as a binder that creates the necessary link between the various types of community capital, concentrates all available power to achieve sustainable growth. Providing professional training for municipal staff to improve interaction with citizens in direct communication, financial transparency and accurate information on how urban projects are implemented to citizens, direct and indirect communication at all levels of urban management with citizens, regularly and continuously, as well as creating the situation for the participation of municipal staff in macroeconomic decision-making, are among the basics of implementing social capital in cities.