“We Don’t Meet [Any]where Else, Just Here”: Spatiality of Social Capital in Urban Allotments

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 20 July 2022

“We Don’t Meet [Any]where Else, Just Here”: Spatiality of Social Capital in Urban Allotments


  • Megan L. Resler Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria), University of Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Isabel Ramos Lobato Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria), University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Seona Candy Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria), University of Helsinki, Finland / Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, Finland


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Abstract:  Unlike many other types of urban micro‐publics, allotment gardens provide a spatial opportunity for everyday social contact and encounters between heterogeneous user groups who share a common interest. While these micro‐publics have an evidenced capacity for generating social capital, scholars have questioned the extent to which social capital accessed within the allotment garden transcends its physical boundary—and thus the relevance of the micro‐public for social integration by fostering resource transfers between socially‐distant members of the population. In this article, we investigate for whom and to what extent social ties and resources accessed within the garden extend beyond its physical boundary and into other domains of urban life (i.e., scaling resource transfers) in Vantaa, the most multicultural city in Finland. Utilizing a mixed‐methods approach, we integrated crisp‐set qualitative comparative analysis and thematic analysis to explore which configurations of gardener characteristics relate to different resource transfers. We found that although new contacts—including boundary‐crossing contacts—were formed within the micro‐public, they evidenced little potential for scaling resource transfers across social difference, and in some cases even sparked intergroup tensions. These findings illustrate that despite the common interest shared by individuals within this micro‐public, contact between different groups alone is not necessarily sufficient to foster positive social encounters, scaling or otherwise. To improve scaling resource transfers and, more broadly, deepen social connections formed within the micro‐public network, facilitated intercultural dialogue by relevant institutions is needed.

Keywords:  allotment garden; micro‐public; resource transfer; segregation; social capital; social mixing

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   On the Role of Space, Place and Social Networks in Social Participation (Forthcoming)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v10i3.5322


© Megan L. Resler, Isabel Ramos Lobato, Seona Candy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.