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Influence of social capital on community-based action in tourism development: a study of social network analysis

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Title: Influence of social capital on community-based action in tourism development: a study of social network analysis
Author(s): Hwang, Doohyun
Director of Research: Costa, Carla
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Stewart, William P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Costa, Carla; Wicks, Bruce; Williams, Kate; Jeong, Seonhee
Department / Program: Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline: Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Communiy-based Tourism Development Sustainability Rural Tourism Social Network Analysis Community-based Action Tourism Impact
Abstract: Understanding a community’s behavior in the tourism context is important. When considering local residents are the major group of people who are affected by tourism impacts no matter if the impacts are positive or negative, residents who feel they belong to that community normally will try to both minimize the negative changes and maximize the positive impacts of tourism development. These efforts have the potential to engage outsiders and community members in conversations that may lead to sustainable tourism development and also contribute to directing efforts to either slow down or re-direct tourism development in a way that aligns with what the community members want. Previous tourism impact studies indicate the need for understanding of residents’ behaviors in relation to tourism impacts, emphasizing the unbalanced growth of our understanding of residents’ perceptions and attitudes toward tourism impacts, which have been studied extensively. This study aims to understand residents’ collective actions in the tourism context and the dynamics of the process through which each individual forms his or her behaviors in response to the impacts of tourism. Social capital theory provides a good theoretical lens to understand the dynamics of a community’s collective action involvement because it is strongly built on the basis of the connections among actors within a network boundary and on social norms that delineate the quality of their connections. In other words, this study explored the influence of social capital on the local residents’ collective action involvement. Specifically, this study addressed three research questions related to the role of social capital in residents’ collective action involvement: a. To understand the relationships between the network element of social capital and community-based collective action related to tourism development. b. To understand the relationship between the social norm element of social capital and community-based collective action related to tourism development. c. To understand the relationship between community-based social capital and the extent of collective action in the Olle project of Jeju Island, South Korea. The relationships between the network and social norm elements of social capital and community-based collective actions in response to the tourism impacts were thoroughly examined. This examination is based on the broad range of literature in diverse fields that adopt the concept of social capital and led to the theoretical framework used in this research. Furthermore, network and social norm elements of social capital and residents’ level of collective action involvement were empirically measured by using social network analysis, a general survey, and semi-structured interviews. Specific hypotheses addressing their relationships were tested based on multiple regression analysis. Considering that social capital theory is strongly based on network and social structure, using network analysis provides relational and structural information that explains not only the influence of social capital on collective action, but also the dynamics of residents’ collective action involvement. Residents in two communities on Jeju Island, South Korea, which are engaged in the Olle project were studied to explore effect of social capital on their engagement in collective action. This led to comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of residents’ collective action involvement in response to the tourism impacts. This study found that both elements of social capital – networks and social norms, are critical factors that explain residents’ collective action involvement. Both strong and weak ties are critical for residents’ successful collective action involvement. Specifically, two types of strong ties, residents’ informal networks and shared relationships through social organization activities, have been emphasized in this study as the significant ties that positively influence residents’ collective action involvement. However, residents’ connections with major stakeholders deeply engaged in tourism in a community did not explain residents’ collective action involvement. Furthermore, people holding similar structural positions, sharing similar roles in the community, did not present a similar pattern of community involvement. Weak ties at the individual level yielded inconclusive findings on residents’ involvement. At the community level the ties between the community and stakeholders outside it had positive effects on the residents’ involvement. Regarding the social norms element of social capital, existing social pressure perceived by residents to participate in tourism-related collective action was positively correlated with the level of residents’ involvement. However, interestingly, findings regarding trust in both communities were inconclusive. The trust level was negatively correlated with the level of residents’ involvement in the Mang-Jang community, but the trust element failed to explain residents’ involvement in the Nak-Ch’ŏn community. This negative correlation of social capital with residents’ involvement was also identified in the kinship society where all the residents are extensively connected and share an extremely high level of trust and understanding of each others’ behaviors. When it comes to the effects of relational structure of these communities on residents’ level of involvement, the study findings presented that the community highly connected among the members and shares meaningful interactions is positively associated with their level of involvement. However, another finding also highlighted the importance of relational structure of a community that presents group interactions that share collaboration and at the same time, hold each other in check to balance out the power structure. From a theoretical and methodological point of view, this study contributed to the current knowledge of social capital and tourism impact studies and a methodological understanding of the analysis of social relationships and community structure in the tourism context. These contributions were possible by identifying specific conditions, which facilitate the creation of social capital for better residents’ collective action involvement in a rural tourism context, which delineate specific features of networks and structure of the community that encourages each member of a community to participate in collective actions. From a practical point of view, this study contributes to enhancing understanding of tourism policy makers and developers about the dynamics of the local residents’ community-based behavior related to tourism, which ultimately contributes to successful mobilization of residents’ supports and active involvement. For the community itself, findings from the study are related to specific relational and structural features. These results will provide the residents with the relational and structural weaknesses and strengths being compared to those of another community. Furthermore, discussion of these network characteristics with other members would encourage the communities to modify their preexisting relational and structural features toward the ways that facilitate successful involvement of the members in tourism related collective action for making a better community.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34473
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Doohyun Hwang
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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