Community festivals and social capital

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Beaubien, Brad M.
Kelly, Eric D.
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Thesis (M.U.R.P.)
Department of Urban Planning
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This research examines the relationship between community festivals and social capital across time and place. Social capital includes the social networks, norms, and trust that enable groups of individuals to cooperate in pursuing shared objectives, and benefits accrue to both the individual and the community. Research shows the ancient Greek and American Indian civilizations relied on festivals for a variety of purposes relating to social capital, including the bridging of social divides, the transmission of cultural heritage, and the reinforcement of community identity. Today, research findings from five small town festivals in Indiana indicate a similar relationship with social capital. Festivals can bring a community together, offer a shared experience for a diverse group of people, build new relationships, and foster community pride and identity. As such, community festivals may serve as a tool for community planners in building or sustaining social capital in a community.