Title

Local Community Groups and Internet Use: Examining Contents of Local Community Groups’ Websites.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Publication Source

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society

Volume

2

Issue

7

Inclusive pages

207-222

ISBN/ISSN

18323669

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

Local voluntary groups are important players in democratic society. Through group activities and discussion, group members are linked to citizens with common attributes or interests that can advance collective concerns. As information technology and high speed Internet access have become cheaper and easier to use, citizens have been turning to the Internet to communicate with fellow citizens and to access information. As part of this trend, people have also been sharing information at the local community group level. We have been examining the use and impact of these technologies on community groups as part of a larger study of public deliberation. We used content analysis and interview data to investigate web-based communication and information exchange among members of community groups in Blacksburg, Virginia. As part of the larger analysis, we investigated use of new web technologies such as blogs, e-forums, and RSS feeds to understand current state-of-the-art media that affect group communication, online public discussion and civic participation as mediated by local community groups. The content analysis and interview data showed areas of convergence and divergence. There is a downside to the optimistic views about the potential of the Internet to strengthen civil society. We explore both sides of these arguments. We link the findings to prior research on civil society and information technology.

Disciplines

Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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