From Facebook to the Neighbourhood: Infrastructuring of Hybrid Community Engagement

Abstract

In recent years, social media have increased the resources that individuals and organizations are able to mobilize for the development of socially innovative practices. In this article, we engage with a naturally occurring development in a Trentinian neighbourhood to examine the cooperative interactions amongst members of a local community. The first author and local residents of the neighbourhood participated in online discussions, decision making, and physical activities that led to material changes in the area. The interventions are motivated by and based on the concept of Social Street that combines online interactions in a closed Facebook group with face-to-face meetings seeking to practically engage the collective in accomplishing certain immediate or ongoing needs. Over the course of two years, we studied this local instantiation of Social Street in Trento, Italy by way of an action-oriented (digital) ethnography. Through this work, we demonstrate how urban neighbourhoods might benefit from hybrid forms of community engagement that are enacted through a constant back and forth between online and face-to-face interactions. We further argue that the infrastructuring of local urban collectives should follow strategies that pay attention to the multiple issues in urban neighbourhoods and people’s attachments to them. Overall, the paper reflects upon the challenges and configurations of participation that this form of community-work entails.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.socialstreet.it/international/info-english/

  2. 2.

    See http://sociograph.io/

  3. 3.

    See https://grytics.com/

  4. 4.

    Gregorio Arena is the president of Labsus, an association that has as its purpose the promotion of the subsidiarity principle of art. 118, paragraph 4 of the Italian Constitution. Labsus’ research activities produced the “Cooperation Agreements for the Common Goods”, presented in Bologna in February 2014, that favors the inclusion of citizens in urban governance. Every municipality can decide autonomously to adopt this legal instrument. The municipality of Trento adopted it in March 2015.

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Acknowledgements

This research has been possible thanks to the contributions of many members of Social Street and inhabitants of the neighbourhood San Pio X, whom we whole-heartedly thank for their availability and interest in the initiative. Starting from July 2016, the research was partly funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research through the KOKOS project (No. 13 N13559).

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Correspondence to Gaia Mosconi.

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Mosconi, G., Korn, M., Reuter, C. et al. From Facebook to the Neighbourhood: Infrastructuring of Hybrid Community Engagement. Comput Supported Coop Work 26, 959–1003 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10606-017-9291-z

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Keywords

  • Place-based communities
  • Urban neighbourhoods
  • Civic engagement
  • Hybrid engagement
  • Situated engagement
  • Infrastructuring
  • Social networking sites
  • Social street