2 Belonging to your local area and social networks
2.1 Social networks are an important aspect of social capital as they provide a source of support to people, as well as facilitating mutual cooperation in people's local areas (Putnam, 2000). SSA 2015 included three questions on people's sense of belonging and their social networks. They were:
- Some people feel like they belong to their local area, others do not. To what extent do you feel like you belong to your local area?
- To what extent people agree or disagree that 'I feel that there are people in this area I could turn to for advice and support'
- How often, if at all, do you meet socially with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues?
Feelings of belonging to local area
2.2 Nearly 7 in 10 people in Scotland felt they belonged to their local area either 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' (68%). Around 3 in 10 felt they belonged to their local area 'a great deal', with a further 4 in 10 saying 'quite a lot'. Thirteen percent said they felt they belonged to their local area 'not very much' or 'not at all'. (See Table A1 in Annex A for details).
2.3 The analysis included in this report explores a range of socio-demographic factors, household composition, area-based factors and whether in general people can be trusted. More specifically these are:
- Employment status (working, retired, unemployed etc)
- Tenure (owner-occupier, private renter, social renter)
- Having school-aged children in the household
- Area deprivation (as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, SIMD) 
- Whether people think that 'most people can be trusted'
2.4 SSA 2015 included a measure on how trusting people are overall: 'Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?' Half of people in Scotland said that 'most people can be trusted' with a similar proportion saying that 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people' (48%). This question has been asked on five previous occasions with similar findings and there have been no significant changes over time in response (See Table A2 in Annex A for details).
2.5 Regression analysis was conducted to explore which factors were significantly and independently associated with feelings of belonging to their local area. The factors explored were those used throughout the report and described in paragraph 2.3 above.
2.6 Previous SSA research on social capital (Ormston, 2012) showed that across a range of different dimensions of social capital, higher levels of social capital were found among people living in rural areas, those living in the least deprived quintile and people with higher levels of formal qualifications. However, in SSA 2015 the factors that were associated with feelings of belonging were gender, tenure, whether people had children in the household, and general views on whether people can be trusted (see Table A3 in Annex A for details). In contrast to the SSA 2012 report on social capital, whether people lived in urban or rural areas, whether they lived in an area of high or low deprivation and people's level of education were not associated with whether people felt they belonged to their local area or not.
2.7 Figure 1 below shows that those who were more likely to say they felt they belonged to their local area 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' were:
- Women (71% compared with 65% of men )
- People who owned their own home and social renters (70% and 67% respectively compared with 53% of private renters)
- People with no children (aged 0 to 17 years old) living in the household (72% compared with 59% of those with children living in the household).
- People who thought that most people can be trusted (73% compared with 62% of those who thought that you can never be careful enough in dealing with people).
Figure 1: Feeling that they belonged 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' to their local area by gender, tenure, having children in the household and social trust (%)
Base: All respondents
Having someone locally to turn to for advice and support
2.8 Having someone locally who people can turn to for advice and support is one measure of how connected people are to their local communities and may be an important aspect of well-being, helping to prevent isolation and loneliness and build stronger communities. SSA has asked people on four occasions how much they agree or disagree that 'I feel that there are people in this area I could turn to for advice and support'.
2.9 In 2015, over three-quarters said they either 'agreed strongly' or 'agreed' that 'I feel that there are people in this area I could turn to for advice and support' (76%). This is similar to the proportions in both 2009 and 2013 (71% and 73% respectively) but lower than the 84% who agreed in 2006. Around 1 in 8 (12%) in 2015 said they 'disagreed strongly' or 'disagreed' that there are people in this area they can turn to for advice and support. (See Table A4 in Annex A for details).
2.10 There were some differences between subgroups in relation to having people locally to turn to for advice and support. Women were more likely than men to agree that they had people in their area they could turn to for advice and support (79% compared with 74%). Those in rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas (84% compared with 74%), as were those who owned their property compared with renters (79% compared with 72% of social renters and 70% of private renters).  Those who agree that 'most people can trusted' were also more likely to agree that they had people in their area they could turn to for advice and support (84%), compared with 69% of those who thought 'you can't be too careful in dealing with people'. (See Table A5 in Annex A for details).
2.11 Nearly 8 in 10 people who agreed that they had people in their area they could turn to for advice and support said they felt that they belonged to their area 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' (77%). This compared with only around 4 in 10 of those who disagreed that they had people to turn to for advice and support locally (39%).
2.12 SSA 2015 also included a measure of people's level of social contact beyond their local area: 'How often, if at all, do you meet socially with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues?' Figure 2 (below) shows that around a quarter said they met socially 'every day or most days' (27%); a third met 'a few times a week'; and around 3 in 10 met 'once a week' or 'a few times a month' (29%). Around 1 in 10 met someone socially less than 'a few times a month' comprising 4% who met someone 'once a month', 3% 'a few times a year', 4% 'very rarely' and 1% who 'never' met anyone socially.
Figure 2: Frequency that people meet socially with friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues (%)
Base: All respondents
2.13 The previous section showed that there were relationships between people feeling they belonged to their local area and having people to turn to for advice and support. However, there was no relationship between people being more socially active and feelings of belonging or availability of someone for advice and support. Those who met people socially 'every day or most days' were no more, or less, likely to have said that they felt they belonged to their local area or that they have someone to turn to for advice and support in their local area.
2.14 Younger people (aged 18 to 29) were more than twice as likely as people in all other age groups to meet socially 'every day or most days': 49% compared with only 22% of those aged 65 and over. Those in full-time education were also much more likely than people who were in work, unemployed or retired to see people socially 'every day or most days': 61% in full-time education compared with 25% of people in work. Social renters (35%) were more likely to socialise compared with home owners and private renters (24%), and people living in urban areas were more likely than those in rural areas (29% compared with 22%).
2.15 Conversely, those who were more likely to see people socially once a month or less were people aged 40 or older (15% compared with 5% of those aged under 40), and those who felt that 'you can't be too careful in dealing with other people' (15%) compared with those who felt 'most people can be trusted' (8%). (See Table A6 in Annex A for details).
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