A Social Capital Perspective on Improving Public Engagement in Lower Income Communities

Public engagement is an important way to gather information and to understand the vision of the community, but there are many factors that limit community members from engaging. Lower income communities often encounter many more of these limitations, both social factors as well as constraints of daily life. Obstacles that are often encountered with public engagement is a lack of ownership felt for the community, family and work commitments, or just no desire to engage due to social factors (Mullenbach and Baker, 2019). This study looks at the social limitations of engagement through addressing both public participation and social capital in lower income communities and providing the best methods to improve engagement. Social capital and public engagement are often addressed in research as one and the same, this has led to the conclusion that building social capital in these communities can accommodate many problems extending past public participation. Content analysis was used to analyze both public engagement and social capital as individual elements of improving engagement in lower income communities. Results of this study can indicate the most efficient form of public engagement for low income communities as well as ways in which both public engagement and social capital are separate entities but can complement one another.