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COMPUTER-SUPPORTED COMMUNITY NETWORKS AND SOCIAL COHESION Sara Ferlander and Duncan Timms SCHEMA SCHEMA (Social Cohesion through Higher Education in Marginal Areas) is an Educational Multimedia Taskforce project funded by the European Commission. A major research aim of the project is to examine the extent to which the Web can support collaborative learning and the development of learning communities in marginal areas. A related goal is to investigate the use of communications and information technologies (C&IT) as a means of providing social inclusion and social support, especially in disadvantaged communities. 1 The convergence of C&IT has been heralded as providing both a threat to existing forms of community and a means to providing new bases for social cohesion. Writers stressing the first point of view emphasise the potential of C&IT to extend existing divisions and to create new forms of social exclusion and marginalisation, differentiating between the information-rich and the information-poor (e.g. King & Kraemer, 1995; Schiller, 1996). Commentators stressing the second perspective concentrate on the potential of C&IT to increase social inclusion through the ability of users to link up with others regardless of the barriers of time and place (e.g. Rheingold, 1993), and to provide the basis for a recreation of civic democracy (e.g. Tsagarousianou, et al., 1998). The effect of C&IT on local communities in disadvantaged areas provides a critical area for evaluating the relative validity of the two views. Computer-supported community networks Computer-supported community networks (CSCNs) have become relatively common in Sweden. The lead in their creation has often been taken by housing associations, which offer tenants subsidised connection to a local Intranet. The explicit goal is generally to make the area a more attractive place in which to live and work, but social aims include increasing social cohesion, inclusion and integration, especially with reference to disadvantaged groups such as _The project is co-ordinated by the University of Stirling in Scotland, with partners in Finland (Oulu and Lapland), Sweden (Örebro and Karlskrona-Ronneby) and Germany (Stuttgart). Further details of SCHEMA are available on the Web (http://www.stir.ac.uk/schema).
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immigrants, the unemployed and single-parent families. There have been fewer community-based developments in Britain aiming to provide access to CSCNs in people's homes. Instead, access has been provided in kiosks and/or local community centres such as libraries and the emphasis has been on information provision rather than communication. However, the recent emphasis on social inclusion has provided a stimulus for community-based schemes. In this paper we are concentrating on CSCN schemes in two suburban housing areas, one in
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This note was uploaded on 06/19/2011 for the course IT 2554 taught by Professor Mohammadali during the Spring '11 term at Abu Dhabi University.

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