Town Planning Review

Social capital development in a rural community based on exchange management with outsiders: The case of Akimoto, a small mountainous settlement in Japan

Town Planning Review (2008), 79, (4), 427–462.

Abstract

This article investigates the potential of exchange management toward social capital development in a rural Japanese community. In Japan, many rural communities are suffering from depopulation. To revitalise such communities, the alternative concept of social capital has recently gained traction alongside conventional infrastructure-oriented development. This article analyses the process and results of social capital development through a case study of the small settlement of Akimoto in Takachiho Town. The residents have been seeking revitalisation through exchange with outsiders. The major results are: (1) exchange strengthened the residents' community attachment; (2) the main features of social capital, i.e. norms, trust, and networks, were strengthened; (3) exchange management functioned well in terms of human encounters, mutual understanding, and maintaining exchange; and (4) discreet leadership, and the existence of professionals and specialists, were found to contribute to social capital building. Finally, this article discusses the applicability of this approach to other communities.

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Author details

Yoshitake, Tetsunobu

Deguchi, Chikashi