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Publications - Abstracts:

Living the Wired Life in the Wired Suburb: Netville, Glocalization and Civil Society


This dissertation addresses the question, what will be the fate of community and social relations as a result of the growth of new home-based information and communication technologies? How have social networks, social capital and community involvement been affected by the rise of personal computers, the Internet and computer mediated communication (CMC)? Will the Internet reconnect the disaffiliated, or will CMC only contribute to a further disengagement of American community life? Survey and ethnographic data from a long-term study of “Netville,” a wired suburb near Toronto, are used to investigate the effects of advanced communication technology on social relationships. Netville was one of the first residential developments in the world to be built from the ground up with a broadband high-speed local computer network. Netville provided a unique opportunity to observe the effects of advanced information and communication technology on people’s daily interactions with family, friends and neighbours. The “wired” residents of Netville are compared with a similar group of non-wired residents who lived in the same neighbourhood, but who were never connected to the local computer network. Greater involvement with friends, family and neighbours is linked to use of CMC. Internet use is associated with high levels of in-person and telephone contact, the exchange of support, the growth of personal network and increased community involvement.

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