Abstract submitted for conference Narrative Matters 2014

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Published on: 18/11/2013

Online local memories lubricating the emergence of community empowerment

The analysis of the cultural dynamics in the online communication on two local memory websites offers insights into the social benefits they can offer. Active local memory websites are claimed to be empowering on individual, group and community levels, because they offer settings where locals participate in the creation, sharing and improvement of their community narratives and personal stories. The current academic literature presents the accessible and online nature of local memory websites as a key driving force of their empowerment capabilities, especially on the group and community levels. On the community level, the empowerment is predominantly described in terms of community memory, cultural citizenship and community capacity. Firstly, in the construction of community memory, residents present their own view on local knowledge online and, by doing so, they influence how their surroundings’ past and present should be represented. Secondly, as a practice of cultural citizenship, people use these online environments to creatively express their experiences and opinions within the present local culture. This way meanings in life are negotiated and cultural value is judged by ordinary people. Thirdly, with respect to community capacity, community members share memories and experiences in new online social networks, through which they create their own discourse in favor of social power that can influence the community’s future. In order to arrive at insights into patterns with respect to these processes en outcomes of community empowerment, we conducted an exploratory content and network analysis on the data of two active local memory websites (over 20.000 contributions). The results will be presented as well as their translation into a thorough narrative analysis of selected clusters of data using microstoria analysis to further explicate local ways of knowing.


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