A Social and Spatial Network Approach to Understanding Beliefs and Behaviors of Farmers Facing Land Development in Delhi, India

Part of the Human Dynamics in Smart Cities book series (HDSC)


Community participation is an essential component of sustainable planning and development (UN-HABITAT in Planning sustainable cities: UN-HABITAT practices and perspectives, 2010). But, the poor and marginalized present a unique challenge to planners. They are difficult to reach, yet their homes and livelihoods are often tied to places development projects target, making them an important population to include in sustainable planning practices (Kabeer et al. in World Development 40:2044–2062, 2012). Linking social network and spatial analysis can provide planners and policy makers a nuanced understanding of the relationship between social ties and beliefs/behaviors related to participation. It is a relationship not well understood (Beebeejaun and Vanderhoven in Planning Practice & Research 25:283–296, 2010; Brownill and Parker in Planning Practice & Research 25:275–282, 2010), but needed to inform community-based approaches. This research project was designed as a case study of urban farmers facing land development pressures in Delhi, India. The objective was to measure social and spatial aspects of household social networks and investigate if households with similar social networks also had similar land development beliefs and behaviors. Employing a mixed methods approach (GIS mapping, interviews, observations), we determined the social networks of 121 families and used hotspot analysis to examine the relationship between spatial and social dimensions of their lives. Analysis revealed that specific types of social ties can either facilitate or constrain household opportunities, behaviors, and even understanding of the situation. Linking spatial and social network approaches produces a more nuanced understanding of how social networks operate. We offer insight into how to approach hard to reach communities and engage them in planning and development activities that impact their livelihoods.


Delhi India Mixed methods Marginalized groups Social networks Geographic information systems (GIS) Interviews 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.The Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  3. 3.University of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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