"In order to implement sustainable policies for Europe’s coastal zones facing significant problems of sea-level rise, erosion and flooding, a range of factors must be taken into account. Regarding social aspects it is now accepted that examination of local contextual issues should be undertaken as a step to improving policy outcomes. In this context, social capital represents a potentially significant parameter that deserves closer examination. It has been argued that, in communities with greater social capital, there is an increased propensity to act collectively in order to conserve natural resources and, furthermore, that these communities are more likely to support environmental policies. Yet despite these findings, the relationship between social capital inherent in communities and local receptivity to mitigation strategies for hazardous coastal zones has not been considered. The aim of the proposed project is thus to explore public perceptions of coastal management scenarios seeking to mitigate climate change impacts, through the lens of social capital. Specifically, the project will examine public perceptions of the likely (non-economic) social costs and benefits arising from implementing different mitigation strategies and how local social capital differentiates these perceptions. Two case study areas have been chosen, in England, already facing substantial management problems, which will increase in forthcoming decades: Happisburgh to Winterton-on-Sea in north Norfolk and Dymchurch to Rye in east Sussex and Kent. For the examination of citizens’ perceptions and the influence of social capital, both qualitative and quantitative social survey techniques will be implemented. Furthermore, based on the results of the empirical studies the project will explore how social capital can be optimised in current European and national policymaking frameworks to assist implementation of mitigation strategies at the coast."
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