Place-specific constructs of social capital and their possible associations to health: A Japanese case study

Tomoya Hanibuchi, Yohei Murata, Yukinobu Ichida, Hiroshi Hirai, Ichiro Kawachi, Katsunori Kondo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The story of Roseto, Pennsylvania, USA, is one of the most widely cited studies of the putative influence of community social cohesion on population health. However, few contemporary studies of community-based " social capital" on health have addressed " communities" as unique . places with unique histories outside of a Western context. In the present study, we focus on a specific region of Japan (which we call the M-region to preserve anonymity). Using survey data and qualitative interviews, we discuss the historical and contextual origins of the high social capital in the M-region that could account for its relatively good health profile. The analysis of survey data suggested that the residents of M-region have higher norms of reciprocity and participate more in horizontal organizations (including volunteer group, citizen or consumer group, sports group or club, and hobby group), and it also indicated better health status and behaviors in some outcomes among the residents of M-region. Based on qualitative interviews, the origins of social capital in the M-region appeared to be rooted in the strong sense of solidarity fostered by the fact that many of the residents were recruited into the region by the same local employer (a steel manufacturing company). Our study points to the need to ground studies of community-based " social capital" and health on detailed knowledge of the historical context of specific places.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Community
  • Japan
  • Place
  • Social capital
  • Social cohesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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