Perceived ownership of urban parks: The role of the social environment

Jaehyun Kim, Birgitta L. Baker, Nicholas A. Pitas, Jacob A. Benfield, Benjamin D. Hickerson, Andrew J. Mowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Prior studies have provided evidence that park user characteristics and park social context can contribute to a sense of park ownership. However, less is known about the collective contributions of these constructs to perceived park ownership. Therefore, we examined how park proximity to residential neighborhoods, frequency of park use, social cohesion, social capital, and social motivation are related to perceived park ownership. Visitor data (n = 493) were collected within two urban parks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Path analysis indicated that park proximity, frequency of use, social cohesion, informal social control, and social motivations were significantly associated with perceived ownership of park spaces. Moreover, park proximity was positively related to perceived park ownership through social cohesion, informal social control, and social motivation. Our results highlight the critical role of the park social environment in shaping perceived ownership and the need for purposive action aimed at its modification in future park renovation and design concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-88
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Leisure Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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