The role of social capital in predicting and promoting feelings of responsibility for local environmental issues in an Australian community

Miller, Evonne & Buys, Laurie (2008) The role of social capital in predicting and promoting feelings of responsibility for local environmental issues in an Australian community. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 15(4), pp. 231-240.


Engaging individuals and communities with environmental sustainability initiatives is an international public policy priority, with recent research focussed on understanding the role and value of social capital in fostering environmental responsibility and action. This paper investigates the extent to which socio-demographic factors, participation in outdoor activities and eight distinct elements of social capital predict “feelings of responsibility” for local environmental issues in a drought-prone urban Australian community. Most residents felt some responsibility for addressing environmental issues, with logistic regression analyses revealing that the Neighbourhood Connections element of social capital was a key predictor of water and community responsibility. Conversely, residents who scored higher on the Feelings of Trust and Safety element of social capital were less likely to report feeling responsible for water conservation and keeping the neighbourhood clean. Such contradictory findings highlight how different dimensions of social capital may either enable or hinder sustainability. Overall, this research indicates that building specific aspects of social capital might be an effective environmental education and engagement strategy, one that could work at the local level to promote feelings of environmental responsibility and, potentially, foster environmentally sustainable attitudes and behaviour change.

Impact and interest:

6 citations in Scopus
5 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

394 since deposited on 15 May 2009
19 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 20484
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: social capital, social sustainability, feelings of responsibility, environmental sustainability, water and environmental conservation
ISSN: 1148-6563
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Urban Design (120508)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Environment Policy (160507)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand
Deposited On: 15 May 2009 04:41
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:47

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page