Socio-spatial segregation across residential income lines renders concentrated urban poverty and disadvantaged outcomes in marginalised neighbourhoods. Individual community members come together to act collectively upon common problems at varying levels and through different means of civic action. Scientific debate suggests that social capital facilitates collective civic action. However, research on this effect requires further empirical investigation in the context of poverty-impacted neighbourhoods in Lebanon and similar urban contexts. Saida’s historic district (Old Saida) is such a neighbourhood, where social actors show varying practices of collective action and interactive dynamics among each other and with state institutions. This research aims at examining the influence of bonding and bridging social capital on the practices and forms of collective civic action. In light of scientific reasoning on social capital and collective civic action, the research takes the Old Saida neighbourhood as a case study, collecting qualitative data through web-scraping of actions and interviews with civil society actors, community leaders and local experts, assessing and analysing their perceptions and practices. Through coding and qualitative discussion, the research examines and explains the influence of the different forms of social capital on collective civic action in the neighbourhood, referring to scientific literature. Social capital is found to enable civil society’s collective action in Old Saida through facilitating the development of micro-level networks of reciprocity within the neighbourhood community and meso-level coordination mechanisms across the city. Those spaces of familiarity and coordination were deemed necessary for building coherent claims and purposes among civil society actors, thus focusing and increasing collective action in the neighbourhood. When those spaces deemed ineffective in aligning civic visions and agendas and managing disputes across civil society’s community-level, religious, and political spaces, coherent participation practices and more collective action were mainly mobilised among actors who shared mutual political affiliations and religious values. The research finally suggests 5 relevant recommendations for further research and for application in policy and community development programming.

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Lunetta, C. (Carolina)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Hariri, M. (Mohammad) Al. (2022, October 3). Civil society in collective action bonding and bridging in Saida’s historic district. Retrieved from