The changing nature of 'connectivity' within and between communities

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Education

Abstract

The ways communities are connected with each other and with the 'outside world' vary. In some groups strong internal bonds may exclude outsiders, while in others the connections enable a more inclusive approach to the world. Troubled communities tend to have more connections of the strongly bonded, exclusive kind.
Structural and economic features of a society may affect the nature of connections within communities, and more work is needed on the effects of steep income gradients on the nature of communities locally as well as nationally.
Community cohesion initiatives appear in many cases to have been successful, but further research is needed on the conditions that enable communities to develop cross-cutting forms of connectedness rather than strong, internal bonds.
Social networking and other communication technology is enabling new kinds of 'virtual' community connections to form but these tend to reinforce existing kinds of community and may be restricted to particular kinds of user.
People need to connect with others and to find identity in the connections they make; where opportunity for connection is weak, criminal offending is higher. Gangs may serve the purpose of giving identity where other forms of connection do not exist.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description • The ways communities are connected with each other and with the 'outside world' vary. In some groups strong internal bonds may exclude outsiders, while in others the connections enable a more inclusive approach to the world. Troubled communities tend to have more connections of the strongly bonded, exclusive kind.
• Structural and economic features of a society may affect the nature of connections within communities, and more work is needed on the effects of steep income gradients on the nature of communities locally as well as nationally.
• Community cohesion initiatives appear in many cases to have been successful, but further research is needed on the conditions that enable communities to develop cross-cutting forms of connectedness rather than strong, internal bonds.
• Social networking and other communication technology is enabling new kinds of 'virtual' community connections to form but these tend to reinforce existing kinds of community and may be restricted to particular kinds of user.
• People need to connect with others and to find identity in the connections they make; where opportunity for connection is weak, criminal offending is higher. Gangs may serve the purpose of giving identity where other forms of connection do not exist.
Exploitation Route • Given the confirmation of the broad utility of bonding and bridging across a range of work (notwithstanding the tendency of the distinction to mask structural determinants of community characteristics), particularly in troubled communities, we suggest that research needs to be carried out on the activities, work, organisation, etc. that characterise bonding and bridging in practical circumstances.
• While much research has been undertaken at a national level on the significance of income gradients, there has been far less work on their significance at community level. Research to explicate the effects of, for example, adjacency of communities between which there are steep gradients would be useful, given their significance at national level.
• Top down action, as for example in the community cohesion programme, appears to be successful in connecting communities, is valued by community group leaders and should be promoted. Research specifically on good practice is needed.
• Ways for brokering relationships within communities, fostering group membership, and promoting the employment of artefacts such as books and websites (as 'symbols' of community group identity) should be sought in any attempts to support community. Practical implementation should be researched.
• New technology offers opportunities for community connection, but is currently used by a limited range of people; research is needed on ways of spreading the benefits more widely, and how in schools and colleges young people can get the the opportunity to discuss and learn about a wider range of media.
• Gangs offer identity to disadvantaged young people; alternative sources of group identity for young people - for example in clubs, after-school activities and work schemes - need to be more widely available. Research should seek ways of making additional activity of this kind work.
Sectors Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/education/projects/ahrc-discussion-paper-the-nature-of-connectivity.pdf
 
Description With the group below, a meeting was held (with local participants) to discuss the findings of the literature review particularly in the context of the riots in Birmingham in 2011. Abdul Majid, Area Youth Officer, Ladywood and Perry Barr Anita Halliday, St Paul's Trust, Birmingham Azkar Mohammed, Pioneers Leading the Way, Birmingham Bagele Chilisa, academic, Botswana Clayton Shaw, Sampad, Birmingham David Callahan, Scawdi, Birmingham Dawn Carr, Birmingham Community Foundation Deborah Ravetz, Community Artist, W Midlands Francesca Gobbo, academic, Italy Hannah Worth, Chamberlain Forum, Birmingham Ian Ravetz, Priest, W Midlands Izzy Mohammed, Birmingham City Jo Burrill, Midland Heart, Birmingham Joseph Tobin, academic, USA Maria Figueiredo, academic, Spain Pataki Gyongyver, academic, Hungary Susan Spieker, academic, USA Tom Cahill-Jones, Stirchley Happenings, Birmingham
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services