Community Networking and Social Capital: Early Investigations


  • Christina L. Prell

    Corresponding author
    1. Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Communication and Rhetoric. She is an Assistant Professor in Communication at McDaniel College. Her research interests include computer-mediated-communication, social capital and IT, social network analysis, and the social construction of technology.
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Address: Christina Prell, Ph.D. Candidate, Language, Literature, and Communication, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 12180.


This paper draws upon an ongoing study pertaining to the early development of one component of a community network in the city of Troy, New York, USA. The component under study is that of a database to be distributed via a community network. Community networking literature posits a relationship between social capital and community networking, stating that community networking should positively affect levels of social capital in a community. This article begins exploring this relationship through reviewing the social capital concept as presented in the literature. Measures are developed from the field of social network analysis and applied to a group of community members involved in this database project. Results show high levels of in-degree centrality correlating with trustworthiness and resource exchange, and betweeness centrality correlating with trustworthiness. Although in-degree centrality proves to be the more useful measure for purposes of studying community networking and social capital, discussion is given to the surprising results found for betweeness centrality.