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Sustainable livelihood development: A case study measuring social capital and its role in sustainable livelihood development in Zoucheng, China

This thesis is to discover whether the strength of social capital can alter household livelihoods and their sustainability. The intention of this thesis is to answer two questions: (1) Can different types of social ties (kin and non-kin ties) lead to differential access to social capital in a small community in China?(2) Does the strength of social capital alter local livelihood patterns by diversifying household livelihoods, or producing new livelihoods in an industry that has potential for development? This thesis, using a quantitative methodology, focuses on social capital measures. It begins with data collection on the social capital status and livelihoods of mining households. The household survey used a random recruitment for sample selection, which involved 228 participants in mines and related working departments (e.g. electricity, and the corporate headquarters of the local biggest mining company) in Zoucheng city, Shandong Province, China. OLS regression models used the household survey to generate associations of variables, such as human capital resources for respondents, length and location of residency, access to social networks, etc. with the composite measure of access to social capital. With these analyses and background information about Zoucheng, I use a simulation model to project the alternative livelihoods for local rural households based on local resources (e.g. farmland, tourism, and mineral resources). The aim of the simulation model was to better understand the role that social capital might play in possible transitions to alternative livelihoods (namely, tourism and farming). The research results argue that both kin ties and weak ties (such as friendships) are important factors associated with social capital for mining sector residents in Zoucheng (Chapter Six). The advantages of strengthened social capital are presented in the simulation model (Chapter Eight). As social capital was enhanced, both incomes and number of rural tourism operators increased. These results have implications for governmental policy regarding livelihood strategy diversification and poverty alleviation. An understanding of these concepts may play a role in assisting emerging economies to be resilient at local levels and better equipped to withstand exogenous shocks in certain cultural contexts (e.g. Confucian society).
Type of thesis
Liu, S. (2017). Sustainable livelihood development: A case study measuring social capital and its role in sustainable livelihood development in Zoucheng, China (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11233
University of Waikato
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