Saturday, 16 July 2011

What can Social Capital and ICT do for Inclusion?


 Dieter Zinnbauer (2007) writes

"Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), inclusion and social capital are in themselves three very broad concepts that can be plausibly interlinked with each other in a wide variety of ways.

Social capital, for example, can mitigate many risks of social exclusion, while dynamics of exclusion such as inequality and marginalization can precipitate an erosion of social capital. Likewise, ICT can support social inclusion efforts, while - in the form of digital inclusion - becoming itself a new item on the inclusion agenda.

And the relation between social capital and ICT can plausibly be assumed to be even more ambivalent: ICT is sometimes expected to pose challenges to the social capital in local communities, but also believed to open fresh opportunities for weaving new social ties and expanding the formation of social capital.

Exploring in more detail these multiple interrelationships in the triangle of social capital-inclusion-ICT is both a timely and topical endeavour for at least two reasons:
  •  A wealth of empirical evidence clearly indicates that social capital plays a beneficial role for health, education, public participation and the realization of economic opportunities.
  •  A new generation of digital ICT, such as the Internet, have by now been around for a sufficiently long time to move from speculation to grounded observation and better understand their impact on society, including issues of inclusion and social capital. A growing body of empirical investigations bears testament to this and, in our view also supports one very important conclusion:
Adopting a social capital perspective can significantly enrich the design and operationalisation of research and policy initiatives that focus on making ICT work for social inclusion." (Page 13)

Report: What can Social Capital and ICT do for Inclusion?

European Commission
Directorate-General Joint Research Centre
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies
PUBSY 6181
EUR 22673 EN
ISBN 978-92-79-05014-5
ISSN 1018-5593

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