Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 363–376 | Cite as

Social Capital in an Outdoor Recreation Context



This study examined social capital development in three all-terrain vehicles (ATV) clubs in Maine using an adapted version of Lin’s (2001) social capital theory model. The structural components of social capital identified included collective assets and individual assets in the form of normative behavior and trust relationships. Also identified were counter-norms for individual ATV riders identified as having divergent norms from club members. The second component of social capital is access to and mobilization of network contacts and resources. Access networks in the context of the ATV clubs studied were identified as community and landowner relations while mobilization of resources was existent in club membership attempts toward self-governance and efforts of the statewide “umbrella” organization. Instrumental outcomes benefit society and expressive outcomes benefit the individual. Both types of returns are present in the data suggesting that ATV clubs are creating social capital. This is important information to clubs who desire to market themselves, improve their reputations, and enhance their volunteer association. It is of further interest to state governments who fund clubs through trail grants as proof that a return on investment is being realized. Theoretical and applied implications for these and other types of recreation-based volunteer associations (e.g., clubs, friends groups, advocacy groups) are presented.


Social capital Recreation organizations Recreation-based voluntary associations Off-highway vehicles All terrain vehicles Outdoor recreation management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Tourism Research and Outreach, The University of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.School of Forest ResourcesThe University of MaineOronoUSA

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