Is there social capital in cities? The association of urban form and social capital formation in the metropolitan cities of Indonesia

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High-density urban development is claimed as a suitable urban form in enhancing social capital. However, the relationship between those two variables has not been well empirically explored, leading to the emergence of competing results in the literature. This study aimed to investigate the role of urban physical arrangement or urban form in the social capital formation using Indonesian metropolitan cities as a case study. This research was also the first empirical study to investigate the association between urban form and social capital in Indonesia. The multilevel logistic regression was used to investigate the association between the urban form and several indicators of social capital. The findings revealed that individuals in high residential density areas were less likely to know their neighbours, had lower levels of bridging trust, and less involved in the community’s activities. Meanwhile, street connectivity appeared to have a positive association with bridging trust but negatively related to social networks. Moreover, the land use mix did not seem to be significantly associated with any social capital variables. However, the aggregated data of urban form limited our ability of the present study to provide specific policy recommendations. Nonetheless, this study would still suggest that urban planners and policy makers should be mindful to consider that urban form features might influence the development of social capital. Highlights Multilevel logistic regression confirmed that urban form can be claimed to have association with the formation of social capital in metropolitan cities in Indonesia High density seems to have reverse relationship with the level of knowing neighbour, bridging trust and make residents less involve in community activities. High connectivity contributes in fostering the level of bridging trust but lowering social networks. Meanwhile, land use mix did not appear as significant predictor of social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-556
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Urban Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • compact city
  • multilevel regression
  • Social capital
  • urban development
  • urban form


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