Tim Davies’ live blog coverage here.

Trying to achieve today:

  • gather thoughts on the paper
  • “make it better”
  • examples from our work
  • more broadly, challenges and issues around digital inclusion
  • action research in Bristol and other places looking at role of social media in deprived communities, etc. (if we were designing that research, what would we do or ask)

Will Davies, “social, digital networks in deprived communities”

those with least social capital = least engaged in community = least access/capacity to connect online, etc.

those excluded offline are excluded online

vicious and virtuous circles of networks: network anaylsis – social and digital – highlights vicious and virtuous circles of inequality; connectivity delivers confidence, information, reputation-information, well being, economic advantages, these deliver further confidence, information, etc.; demonstrates the ’embeddedness’ of economic activity in social and cultural contexts.

how do you break the cycle? perhaps not breaking it, but elevating it to a different cycle, change one element and the cycle continues but at a different lilt

social capital research surfaces lots of relations but not causations – we can extrapolate where we intervene when it is a cycle, if we interrupt anywhere (espeicially in socially responsible contexts) we can stop the cycle

Why do we need digital inclusion

an economic issue on paper: 51% of noninternet users cite coast as a reason; 90% of new jobs in UK require ICT skills; online services and price-comparison are more efficient

but not in the psychology of nonusers: lack of interest dominant reason for nonuse; lack of literacy and education in general; cultural image of computers

or users: benefits include social connectivity, civic participation, media content, better information on jobs, services, etc.

what comes first: literacy or computer literacy? access or interest?  the offline or the online network?

why do we need social capital

“networks, norms and trust”

bonding social capital: long-standing close ties, which are likely to also know each other; for when you need to borrow £100 in a hurry, emotional and psychological support

bridging social capital: weaker, more ephemeral ties, which are less likely to connect to each other, for when you need a job, potentially more diverse, cosmopolitan, associational

an economic issue:

  • bonding social capital is an efficient response to emotional, physical and financial dependency, that would otherwise fall to the state
  • bridging social capital is an efficient response to ‘information asymmetries’ in markets; it circulates reputation

how does this change after market crash and during market recovery?

beyond economics:

  • civic participation is a good in it’s own right
  • civic participation and information networks lead to better governance
  • informal sanctions against anti-social and criminal behavior
  • nearly any positive policy outcome correlates to social capital
  • malign social capital

how do we reinforce “positive” social capital within networks?

vicious circles:

  • key finding is that social capital has been rising amongst middle classes and falling amongst working classes
  • poverty – especially unemployment – tends to correlate to disproproprtionately more bonding social capital than bridging social capital
  • the excluded may suffer from dysfunctional social capital, where networks are divisve or antisocial

how do we pull people back into the market, into the network, into the community?

sufficient empirical research now shows the internet’s capacity to build social networks:

  • can be used to maintain both forms of social capital, especially over distance
  • lowering barriers to entry for civic engagement
  • effective at circulating information and reputations, including at a local level
  • social netowrking sites and publishing platforms offer new opportunities to build and maintain community, including at a local level
  • new form of community, between formal and informal

what is the difference in social capital between local and national networks, campaigns, sustainability?

moving from “just in case” organizations to “just in time” organizations – p. resnick (american) – example: airline group forming after sitting on jet way for hours, to change the policy of the airlines, successful, then separate

speeding up and entrenching network effects: there is a risk that the internet exacerbates existing trends in social capital:

  • vibrant, middle class neighbourhoods exploit capacity of internet to circulate information, build reputations, publish their good news
  • deprived neighbourhoods do not, but are stigmatized by teh technology

opportunities for excluded groups:

  • digital inclusion strategies generate online/offline networks themselves
  • shift to audiovisual content broadens definition of literacy
  • online communication is potentially more inclusive, less intimidating, more cosmopolitan than face to face – potential to build bridging capital
  • building networks in and around labour markets
  • considerable local knowledge could be ‘freed’ – free local knowledge
  • p2p social technologies have tipping points of take-up/adoption
  • potential for virtuous circles amongst elderly

how does ICT aid social capital formation

challenges and questions

  • maintaining networks beyond engagement of founding entrepreneur
  • altering cultural representation of ICT
  • avoiding prescriptions over how networks are to be build and what is to be communcated and how
  • dealing with the risk of bad online social capital 0 stigmatization, bullying, etc.


  • talk about local
  • people’s voice media
  • digital bridge project (shoreditch)
  • haringey online


  • which are the individuals or agencies best suited to engaging with people in this way?
  • leaving ICT aside, what are th emost effective strategies for generating networks in deprived communities?
  • how can ICT be represented in a way that doesn’t seem like education?
  • how can information be better circulated around local labour markets (as unemployment grows…)?
  • how can the shift to institution building occur, if it should at all?
  • how to respond to the ‘grey economy’ or questionable networks?
  • which ICTs are most suited to developing social capital in deprived communities?
  • which software platforms are most suited to developing social capital in deprived communities?
  • who are the hardest to reach groups and can anything be done to change this?
  • what is needed from public services to facilitate benefits discussed here?


anne faulkner – response

digital inclusion, conference and work

digital inclusion more about social justice, vs economic side of digital adoptions

key question: how can we accelerate the creation of social capital?

evidence form UKonline centers about social impacts of the internet:

  • internet users saw themselves as happier, more self confidence, better informed, 25% more confident about ability to find a job, etc.
  • doesn’t look at causality: are people coming to internet who are happier anyway

strong correlation between internet use and increased social capital; but it took a long time to get there. takes time, especially when dealing with disadvantaged communities

lots of social networks created via uk online centers are actually offline networks. how do they come together – online and offline networks?

uk online centers of the future might be more about digital mentors or ambassadors that help people identify their goals and needs and how digital media could help – how do we create a model for this?

human infastructure around how we organize around digital inclusion – digital engagement; something around the collaboration of groups increasing social capital

3 key things:

  1. action research project exploring social media dn communities
  2. better leadership in exploring digital projects that are funded
  3. creation of social enterprise – how can we harness brilliant things hapening by individuals to create an enterprise to help groups and localities


south bristol – carolyn hassan – response

think beyond text

consider all kinds of content

people find ways of communicating, connecting, advocating, campaigning

phsyical access to computers is important but also creates problems – not about access, but about motivation and responsbility


connected communities program – damini

social networks (online, offline, connection) and social capital

role that networks can play in building social capital

creating action research projects

mapping social networks – do it not just to see results but understand the process and make it visible

look at networks created in deprived communities and how they create social capital

look at a series of different questions about making sense of social networks and social capital – what we don’t understand now, what could be a new model, etc.

look at social value of networks created around digital inclusion


andy gibson: framing things with behavior change methodology will turn into everyone should want what we want because we think it’s best; digital divide partly about some not seeing a use, not necessarily not access; what do people who aren’t online want to do that they could do online but don’t know

teaching about ICT needs to be completely personalized around what people actually want to do and not a standardized set of uses

Notes from Digital Inclusion for Social Capital, RSA and UKOnlineCenters
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