Networked Neighbourhoods: The Connected Community in Context

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However, research in this area has not fully examined under what conditions ICSN can further promote a civic community in place-based and mediated communication contexts. Of particular interest in this regard is how digital technologies — the Internet in general and mobile devices in particular — can present new opportunities for citizens to not only consume local news and information but also re produce content about local politics or community issues such as expressing opinions and sharing news and information they encounter online.

The purpose of the present study is to uncover this relatively unexplored area in the CIT literature by examining the roles of locality-based expressive uses of Internet and mobile media in moderating the association between ICSN and civic participation among community residents. In doing so, we rely on the networked community perspective, where physical and virtual communities are interwoven and interconnected in multiple communication environments and can be mutually beneficial to each other Friedland, With this theoretical and conceptual guidance, our study analyzes data from a Web survey of a U.

Communication resources entail three storytelling agents — community residents, community organizations, and local news media. In its original form Ball-Rokeach et al. In this process, individuals participate in any forms of daily communications through key storytelling agents, such as neighbors, community organizations, and geo-ethnic media in a large, urban community. Therefore, CIT posits that the storytelling agents are unique community assets and, when they form a network, can be a fertile ground in which locality-based civic action flourishes.

At the micro level, community residents play vital roles as storytelling agents by sharing local news and information, identifying community resources, and connecting with the community environment. At the meso-level, community organizations cultivate a civic and participatory culture by providing opportunities for community residents to collaborate with fellow citizens toward commons goals. This involvement with community organizations increases levels of neighborhood belonging Ball-Rokeach et al.

At the meso and macro levels, media organizations stimulate public discussions and foster civic outcomes among community residents. Local media at the meso level, such as geo-ethnic media with specific geographical boundaries and ethnic groups in large, urban communities, can nurture communication assets, thus enhancing neighborhood belonging Ball-Rokeach et al. The theoretical assumption underlying ICSN is that the storytelling agents stimulate each other and combine to foster values that are greater than the sum of its components. For instance, connections to local news media organizations may motivate community residents to participate in public discussions with other residents and join community organizations.

CIT operationalizes ICSN as a summation of three interaction terms: 1 interpersonal discussion X connection to community organizations; 2 interpersonal discussion X connection to local media; and 3 connection to community organizations X connection to local media. A network is considered strong if residents are closely connected to each of the storytelling agents. However, if residents are closely connected to only one or two of the storytelling agents but not to the other agent s , then a network is not as strong.

Specifically, civic participation in this study is defined as citizens' voluntary efforts to improve the quality of a community through nonelectoral means Putnam, Common civic activities include but are not limited to: volunteering for community projects, attending a community meeting to discuss local problems, working for a social group or cause, donating items to local organizations, taking part in a local protest, and contacting local media about community affairs CIRCLE, ; Shah et al.

Although participation in civic activities used to take place only through traditional, interpersonal means, citizens now can use Internet technologies to perform different types of civic action online. For example, one can make a charitable donation online to help others in need. One can send an e-mail to local media to express views on a local issue or problem.

Or, one can engage in virtual volunteering, such as developing Web materials for a local nonprofit organization and spreading the word about community projects via e-mail or social media. The Internet enables citizens to perform civic activities online with greater ease and flexibility.

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This characteristic may make online civic participation uniquely different from offline forms of civic participation. In fact, political communication researchers have realized the different attributes of participation in face-to-face and online settings and differentially looked at offline and online political participation e. Extant literature shows that online media use is a multidimensional concept.

One dimension of online media use is opinion expression e.

The Connected Community in Context

At its core, online expression focuses on self-expression Leung, The expressive dimension of online media use is separate from an informational dimension that focuses on information consumption such as reading, watching, or listening to online content. News media organizations my create such online content and publish it on their Websites, and also share it on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It also may be commentary that ordinary citizens post on their blogs and social media accounts, or videos or photos of daily events they record and post online.

The expressive and informational dimensions of online media use are related to each other, but still distinct. Although research shows the connection between the two dimensions e.

This conceptual distinction is supported by empirical evidence. Research also has shown that the two dimensions are differentially associated with participatory behaviors, with online expression exerting stronger effects than online information consumption Bode et al. Based on the distinctive nature of the informational and expressive aspects of online media use, we incorporate these two dimensions into the CIT framework. For instance, Kim and his colleagues examined media dependency in social network sites SNS , with an expression dimension added to the six everyday goals. Then, Kim and his associates added expressive use of SNS use as a distinct dimension alongside the informational dimension.

That is, information use as a form of consumption is related but distinct from expressive use as a production. Our study considers the goals of understanding, play, and orientation as part of information-oriented media use, because these goals can be achieved and satisfied through connection to local offline and online media. A long tradition of research indicates that local media not only report factual news but also provide entertainment to readers and allow them to vicariously socialize with local residents, groups, and institutions spotlighted in the news e. Online opinion expression is important in terms of the public sphere and its gateway potential for citizen participation.

Ordinary people now have means to express their opinions freely online. Furthermore, research has revealed that online opinion expression is an antecedent to citizen engagement Bode et al. It is important to point out that citizens can express their opinions online not only via conventional computer devices such as desktops and laptops but also via mobile phones. The literature suggests that mobile-based communication is unique in several notable regards. Unlike face-to-face communication, mobile communication can transcend geographic boundaries and instantly connect with people in distant places through calling, texting, voice messages, e-mailing, and social networking sites.

Compared to communication with traditional computers such as desktops and laptops, mobile communication enables seamless and continuous communication on the go while users physically move from one place to another Ling, , or in places where use of larger digital devices is inconvenient Schrock, Therefore, people can more easily express their opinions online in various occasions such as at restaurants, on the street, and while waiting in line, among others.

Based on the unique nature of mobile communication, Campbell and Kwak examined how mobile device use for political discussion would affect political participation. While controlling for discussion in more general online settings, they uncovered that political discussion in mobile and computer-mediated communication settings were differentially linked with political participation, with the effect of discussion via computer-mediated communication stronger than that of mobile-based discussion.

Rojas and Puig-i-Abril also differentially examined online and mobile media use for informational and mobilization purposes in relation to civic participation. Following this line of research, the present study differentially investigates the role of online- and mobile-based expressive activities in the CIT framework. Based on the literature cited above, the current study investigates two locality-based online media uses—local Internet and mobile expression—as mechanisms that enhance ICSN's association with offline and online forms of civic participation.

Scheufele's differential gains model guides this prediction. The model emphasizes the roles of interpersonal political discussion in moderating the effects of news media use on political participation, such that the effects are enhanced if one discusses politics with others more often.

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The model builds on two theoretical assumptions Scheufele, First, citizens who talk with others about politics may gain a greater political understanding beyond learning from news media sources, as they can have a further opportunity to learn about political facts and different viewpoints, clarify areas of uncertainty, organize thoughts, and relate politics to personal experience and situations. Second, citizens who talk with others often about politics likely anticipate political discussions in the future.

In a similar vein, Pingree articulated the civic utility of opinion expression. In his message effects model, he noted that opinion expression affects message senders themselves in three stages. First, expectation of future expression stimulates one to more actively and carefully seek and process messages received from information sources. Second, message composition during the act of expression motivates improved understanding of subjects, as one clarifies thoughts to develop a logical and coherent narrative.

Third, releasing a message solidifies the sender's commitment to subjects of interest. In this linkage of expression and commitment, Rojas and Puig-i-Abril reported that online expression fostered mobilizing uses of online and mobile media encouraging others to take action for a social or political cause. Based on theoretical reasoning by Scheufele and Pingree , it is plausible that engaging in expressive acts about community affairs online helps citizens think and learn about, identify with, and reinforce commitment to their community beyond what they can gain through a community storytelling network.

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Those who expressively engage with their community would also pay close attention to and carefully process information they encounter and obtain through a community storytelling network, because they are likely to use such information as part of future expressive acts by posting opinions of local events on social networking sites, sharing local news stories with online networks, and creating multimedia content. An end result of online opinion expression would be increased civic participation. Thus, the prediction is that the linkage between ICSN and civic participation can be stronger for those who perform locality-based opinion expression with Internet and mobile media concerning community issues or local politics.

Building on these theoretical rationales, we formulate the following hypotheses with two issues in mind. First, the hypotheses suppose that civic participation can take place in closely related but distinct communication environments — physically embedded vs.

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Both types of civic action are oriented to geographically bounded communities and locality-based communications through the networked communities where physical and virtual communities are interconnected in multiple communication environments Friedland, Second, the hypotheses consider not only general Internet-based communication activities via desktops and laptops but also mobile-based communication via mobile devices.

Thus, we test the following closely related but distinct sets of hypotheses: H1a: The relationship between ICSN and offline civic participation will be moderated by local Internet expression, such that this relationship will be stronger for respondents who more frequently engage in locality-oriented expressive activities online. H1b: The relationship between ICSN and offline civic participation will be moderated by local mobile expression, such that this relationship will be stronger for respondents who more frequently engage in locality-oriented expressive activities using mobile devices.

H2a: The relationship between ICSN and online civic participation will be moderated by local Internet expression, such that this relationship will be stronger for respondents who more frequently engage in locality-oriented expressive activities online. Research that analyses and explains emerging patterns of relationships at different levels in social ecology networks and uses them to explain outcomes is clearly needed. This article provides a conceptual framework for moving forward in this respect.

Growing evidence supports the need to turn intervention to more person-centred approaches that configure context according to place.


These approaches must incorporate complex sets of interaction of socio-cultural elements related in an ecology and, in doing so, must also highlight and distil risk along with protective factors so that all ecological determinants are explicitly identified and incorporated into the design and implementation of interventions. This approach has particular relevance for people with multiple and complex needs, since current approaches are known to be failing in service provision and are proving extremely costly to maintain.

Shifting the emphasis and extending the network array across micro, meso, exo and macro systems brings a new way of thinking, acting and organising practice. This acts on the realization that people operate within systems to provide service but drills down to the individual level obtaining ownership that relates to appropriate provision of that service. Future person-centred and place-based studies may do well to collect a broad and complete set of data across demographics, including survey data as well as archived data, so that risk factor networks may be more closely tied to particular social ecologies.

Such an approach can prove to be very useful in addressing future research questions, such as: How might social systems incorporate mental health needs of vulnerable populations? Our proposed model offers a new way of thinking about person-centered care, as well as offering a methodological approach to advance research and practice. Christopher Koliba, Ph. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Int J Integr Care.

091126 Hugh Flouch mps09 Network Neighbourhoods

Published online 27 June Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Peter Tsasis: ac. Corresponding author: Peter Tsasis, PhD ac. Received Sep 19; Accepted Jun 4.