Community Networking and Social Capital: Early Investigations

Authors

  • 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.

Abstract

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.

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