Social Capital and Third Places Through the Internet: Lessons from a Disadvantaged Swedish Community

Social Capital and Third Places Through the Internet: Lessons from a Disadvantaged Swedish Community

Duncan Timms (University of Stirling, Scotland) and Sara Ferlander (Södertörn University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-799-2.ch010
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Abstract

Although Sweden is generally considered to be at the forefront of the ICT revolution and to have high levels of social capital – interpersonal trust and participation – there remain areas and populations which are relatively disadvantaged. In this chapter we examine a number of efforts which have attempted to make use of ICT to enhance social capital in a Stockholm suburb which has been stigmatised in the press and which contains relatively high proportions of immigrants, single parents and the unemployed, all groups which are relatively excluded. An initial effort, based on the installation of a local community network, largely failed. A second effort, based on a locally-run Internet Café was more successful, with the café operating as a Third Place, both online and offline, bridging many of the divisions characterising the community. Despite its success in encouraging participation, trust and community identity, the IT-Café could not be sustained following the end of project funding and a change in personnel. The factors accompanying the success and failure of the Swedish undertakings provide lessons for other efforts to use ICTs in attempts to enhance social inclusion and community.

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