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Investigating geospatial social capital networks for industry‐based grassroot economies : the case of Damietta, Egypt

Heysham, Nourhan


Nourhan Heysham


Social capital is a vital asset that contributes to the development of professions as well as communities, specifically in small scale urban settings with a dense social structure. This research aims to develop new tools linking social capital to spatial interactions to fully understand the value of the grassroot economy of the furniture industry in Damietta. Furniture enterprises (MSMEs) in this context form the main economic base of the city socially inherited through generations. The research examines the hypothesis of social capital being the main success factor of this economic cluster, building on Porter’s Competitive Advantage theory and Putnam’s social capital theory, linking networking, trust and norms to the spatial distribution of furniture enterprises in the city (Network Theory).
In light of recent globalisation-oriented development in Damietta, the city’s existing coherent urban and social complex patterns are compromised. Quantifying a generally qualitative measure such as social capital provides data-driven commendations for community-oriented decision-making towards small scale contextual sustainable development.
The proposed methodology adopts a mixed methods approach, starting with interviews that verify the theoretical and spatial framework, and geospatial GIS network mapping based on field survey. The research utilises Network Theory and geolocation data to quantify social capital and visualise its magnitude in relation to space. The output is a novel tool that is the theoretical and spatial framework, and the production of a novel dataset of spatial interactions of social capital network mapping that would inform data-driven development in Damietta. The approach and developed tool can be appropriated to other industries and urban settings that resemble similar industrial characteristics to Damietta.
This work concludes that social capital is highly abundant among the network of furniture enterprises (MSMEs) in Damietta, which has enriched the patterns and dynamics of the industry in the city. There is a unique way in which the industry operates in Damietta considering the vernacularly formulated social capital networks, and socio-spatial interactions and supply chain variations that have developed in the city. This has created an inclusive, local and more resilient industrial cluster that is in need of both conservation and growth.


Heysham, N. Investigating geospatial social capital networks for industry‐based grassroot economies : the case of Damietta, Egypt. (Thesis). University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 28, 2022


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