Abstract - The Information Society 19(5)

SPECIAL ISSUE: ICTs and Community Networking

Grieving for a Lost Network Collective Action in a Wired Suburb

Keith N. Hampton


Critics have argued that information and communication technologies (ICTs) disconnect people from their social networks and reduce public participation. Research in support of this perspective has been biased by two assumptions. The first is a tendency to privilege the Internet as a social system removed from the other ways people communicate. The second is a tendency to favor broadly supportive strong social ties. Survey and ethnographic observations from Netville, a two-year community networking experiment, suggest that weak, not strong ties, experience growth as a result of ICTs. By examining a unique and under explored stage in the lifecycle of a community networking project, the end of a networking trial, this paper demonstrates how ICTs facilitate community participation and collective action by: 1) creating large, dense networks of relatively weak social ties, and 2) through the use of ICTs as an organizing tool.

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