Foth, Marcus (2008) Sociocultural animation. In Van Slyke, Craig (Ed.) Information Communication Technologies : Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. IGI Global, Hershey, PA, pp. 464-471.
The emergence of global computer networks and the ubiquitous availability of advanced information and communication technology (ICT) since the mid Nineties has given rise to the hope that the traditional disadvantages faced by regional economies and regional communities could be elevated easily and swiftly. Yet, the experience of both community informatics and community development researchers and practitioners tells a different tale. Although the potential of ICT is in fact realised in some situations and locations and does provide means to ensure sustainability in some regional communities, elsewhere it has not been taken up or has not been able to elicit change for the promised better. Too many communities are still faced by a centralised structure in the context of commerce, service provision or governance and by various degrees of digital divides between connected and disconnected, between media literate and illiterate, between young and old, and between urban and rural.
Many attempts to close or bridge the digital divide have been reported with various degrees of success (cf. Menou, 2001; Servon, 2002). Most of these accounts echo a common voice in that they report similar principles of action, and they reflect – in most cases unconsciously – practices of sociocultural animation.
This article seeks to shed light onto the concept of sociocultural animation which is already commonplace in various forms in the arts, in education and professional development, youth work, sports, town planning, careers services, entrepreneurship and tourism. It starts by exploring the origins of sociocultural animation and draws parallels to the current state of research and practice. It unpacks the foundation of sociocultural animation and briefly describes underlying principles and how they can be applied in the context of community informatics and developing regional communities with ICT. Finally, further areas of investigation are being proposed.
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