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JIITOv4p127-145Mignone387

JIITOv4p127-145Mignone387 - Journal of Information...

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Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations Volume 4, 2009 Accepting Associate Editor: Alex Ramirez Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Social Capital in Aboriginal Communities in Canada Javier Mignone and Heather Henley Faculty of Human Ecology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada [email protected] ; [email protected] Abstract This article examines the potential impact of information and communication technology on so- cial capital in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. The analysis led to the conclusion that both the “what” and the “how” of connectivity matter. Policy and research priority issues are also discussed. Keywords : information communication technology, connectivity, Aboriginal, broadband net- works, community networks, social capital. Introduction In Canada, the last several years have seen a significant growth in information and communica- tion technology (ICT) opportunities, particularly in relation to online capabilities. A diverse num- ber of Aboriginal communities have been part of this process. There are numerous experiences where the growth in ICT appears to be having an important impact on socioeconomic realities. Scholars suggest that community ICT networks provide greater access to essential services such as education, training, and health care (Fawcett, Francisco, & Schultz, 2000) and may increase community capacity, ultimately strengthening communities (Telenor, 2004). Increased access to information is reported to improve a community’s ability to interact with other organizations, such as governments, businesses, and other administrative units. These capabilities would enable more equitable participation in areas of community administration and governance (Daly, 2005). A U.S. study (Ruiz, 2004) found that broadband access is an important part of enhancing rural community development, improving the economy, health care, and general quality of life. None- theless, a case study on the social transformations induced by the high-speed Internet connectivity in a town of the province of New Brunswick, Canada, found very little evidence of transforma- tion especially at the household level. While the study found many examples of new uses and ac- tivities as a result of broadband adop- tion, there were few examples of a change in behaviours, attitudes, relation- ships, and operating norms as a result (Selouani & Hamam, 2007). In recent years, social capital (tenta- tively defined as the institutions, rela- tionships, and norms that shape the qual- ity and quantity of society’s social inter- actions) has become one of the relevant Material published as part of this publication, either on-line or in print, is copyrighted by the Informing Science Institute. Permission to make digital or paper copy of part or all of these works for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage AND that copies 1) bear this notice in full and 2) give the full citation on the first page. It is per-
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