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Networked individualism of urban residents: discovering the communicative ecology in inner-city apartment buildings

Foth, Marcus & Hearn, Gregory N. (2007) Networked individualism of urban residents: discovering the communicative ecology in inner-city apartment buildings. Information, Communication & Society, 10(5), pp. 749-772.

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Abstract

Certain patterns of interaction between people point to networks as an adequate conceptual model to characterise some aspects of social relationships mediated or facilitated by information and communication technology. Wellman proposes a shift from groups to networks and describes the ambivalent nature inherent in an ego-centric yet still well-connected portfolio of sociability with the term ‘networked individualism’. In this paper we use qualitative data from an action research study of social networks of residents in three inner-city apartment buildings in Australia to provide empirical grounding for the theoretical concept of networked individualism. However, this model focuses on network interaction rather than collective interaction. We propose ‘communicative ecology’ as a concept which integrates the three dimensions of "online and offline", "global and local" as well as "collective and networked". We present our research on three layers of interpretation (technical, social and discursive) to deliver a rich description of the communicative ecology we found, that is, the way residents negotiate membership, trust, privacy, reciprocity, permeability and social roles in person-to-person mediated and direct relationships. We find that residents seamlessly traverse between online and offline communication; local communication and interaction maintains a more prominent position than global or geographically dispersed communication; and residents follow a dual approach which allows them to switch between collective and networked interaction depending on purpose and context.

Impact and interest:

31 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 6100
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: communicative ecology, community networks, community informatics, networked individualism, social networks, urban neighbourhoods
DOI: 10.1080/13691180701658095
ISSN: 1468-4462
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified (200199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning) (160404)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published by Taylor & Francis in the journal Information, Communication & Society in October 2007.
Deposited On: 09 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:37

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