Social Capital and Wellbeing in Japanese Communities - An Urban - Rural Divide?

Figure 1: Social Capital and Wellbeing in Japanese Communities


  • Stefan Hundsdorfer, PhD candidate (Department of Sociology, University of Vienna)
  • Dionyssios Askitis, PhD candidate (Department of East Asian Studies – Japanese Studies, University of Vienna)


In this interdisciplinary research project, PhD candidates Hundsdorfer and Askitis integrate sociological and psychological approaches to shine a light on the relationship of social capital and subjective wellbeing in Japanese communities in varying states of structural development. Research is conducted as part of the long-standing study group on rural sociology at the University of Vienna’s Department of East Asian Studies – Japanese Studies division. Data is collected via a standardized online survey of 2500 respondents in rural and urban municipalities all over Japan. A particular emphasis is placed on operationalizing Japanese conceptions of wellbeing drawn from previous qualitative research, addressing the different levels of analysis at play and relating them to each other. With this process we strive to reveal divergent causal pathways in the creation of urban and rural wellbeing from individual traits to relationships, networks up to the wider community.

This project is funded by the Toshiba International Foundation and the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


  • How do individual, interpersonal and communal factors interact in the production of wellbeing?
  • How are social capital and wellbeing produced by different subgroups engaged in rural-urban and urban-rural migration?
  • Which forms of wellbeing flourish under different socio-ecological conditions?


  • Part of a Sequential Mixed Method Design with prior interdisciplinary qualitative research input (see
  • Quantitative online survey of urban (n=1500) and rural (n=1000) residents from all over Japan (see Figure 1) using the following indicators:



Resource availability


Social Capital



Costs of social capital


Community social capital




Social contact/loneliness




Individual traits and attitudes

Social attitudes


Interdependent happiness





Life satisfaction




Social production function


Domain satisfaction


Sociodemographic, socioeconomic and socioecological factors




Forthcoming in 2022