How the Internet Has Influenced the Nature of Community Involvement in Development Decisions
Community development involves stakeholders’ cooperation and coordination, including the government and community members in pursuit of programs, establishments and institutions known to promote social well-being as well s socioeconomic development. Adequate participation by members of the society in community development involves a significant element because it ascertains democratic nature of that process apart from securing suitability of development plans, agendas, outcomes as well as processes to the desires and requires on part of the community members. Further, such involvement provides influence in the community over government activities with the aim of ensuring there is organization, responsibility and order in execution and planning of development programs. The involvement of the community occurs through government representation in the structures of decision making as well as directly through the interest groups and civil unions to monitor development activities by the government (DN, 2013, pp.8-11). The Internet influences the level as well as the community involvement nature in relation to development decisions largely involves application and suitability of its opportunities and resources in facilitation of interaction, communications and contact among the members for purpose of improving their efficiency in participation and input in the decisions that are development related. The value is applicable in the efficiency and convenience advantages the facility provides in the contact, communication and interactive processes related to the involvement of the community in development decisions (Stern & Dillman, 2006, pp.409-413). As this paper establishes the Internet opportunities and facilities, as well as the advantages they provide make it a tool that is convenient in participation of members of the community in making development decisions.
The Role and Significance of the Internet in Community
Involvement as for Development Decisions
The internet is a representation of a global platform of unified and interconnected networks utilizing Internet address system for service of the global users. The Internet is a network of public nd private systems creating a wealth of contact channels and resources to different individuals and institutions including individual public, businesses, academic resources and facilities. The wealth of interconnections can be found across the globe and it avails an immense resource as well as extensive platform for use by individuals and communities for different kinds of socioeconomic activities. This wealth of interconnections as well as its extensive opportunities and resourcefulness in social contacts influences communities’ participation in decisions development (Sterm & Dillman, 2006, pp. 410-412). A common manner of community involvement in decision negotiation process is concerned with appointment or election of representatives for their desires and interests, which is carried out through political processes. A community will elect a politician it views as appropriate and capable of representing its interests in government as well as its processes with regard to development, chiefly in decisions on the programs to execute and plan for socioeconomic community well-being and development. Through its representatives and the regular contact of the community and impact, it is possible to advance their interests and the community influences the process of decision making and outcomes.nin terms of developmental government agendas, communities will lobby for their interests through civil pressure, including citizens mobilization for their cause as well as demonstrations that demand consideration and inclusion of their interests in plans made by the government (DN, 2013, pp.8-11). Traditional community involvement approaches and methods encompass physical searches, locations and access of individuals and partners representing or sharing interests of the community members in the process of government decision negotiation. They also feature physical community members’ mobilization in order to pressure the community representatives and government into development decisions through advocacy and demonstrations. Nevertheless, the Internet has availed more efficient and new techniques of influencing the process of decision making and contact through use of interactive, online communication and network facilities for purposes of transmitting information and ideas among the stakeholders (Stern & Dillman, 2006, pp. 420-421). Efficiency of the Internet to activate and develop social capital advantages and to facilitate stakeholders and partners contacts including representatives of the community in government decision negotiation process comprises critical influences of the community involvement in development decisions.
- The Internet as a Convenient and Effective Social Capital Tool in Community
Involvement in Development decisions
Social capital is a representation of critical resource and asset for community involvement that is effective in decisions development through proficient capacity building. This is attributed to the oneness and strength in community efforts as well as the pressure on government and representatives of the community in the process of decision negotiation to serve as an effective technique of securing the interests of the community in development plans, outcomes and processes. Social capital is a term that refers to aggregation of networks and connections among members of a community and the resulting oneness and trustworthiness among them (Stern & Dillman, 2006, pp. 410-411). It is comprised of anticipated efficiency, collective and economic benefits a community enjoys from the preferential treatment and cooperation among its partners and members on the basis of potency and capacity of achieving common goals because of the strength of their union. Social networking as well as capacity building also increases a group’s productivity through availability and access of strategic resources that prevail in collective environments as well as the richness of strategic and extensive social contacts opposed to individual efforts (Kavanagh, 2011, pp. 16-20). A community is empowered by social capital to influence the resources and mechanisms of its interests in an effective manner through associations building with stakeholders sharing its visions and concerns.
The Internet also avails an effective and strong capacity for the preservation and building of social capital that is adequate at levels that can afford powerful, active and productive community involvements in the process of making development decisions. It also serves as the most ideal platform for community members’ mobilization as well as information transmission and activist message in securing support and process activity. The Internet serves as an ideal extension for face to face communication and contact among members of the community thereby enhancing interconnectedness among the members (Stern & Dill man, 2006, pp. 410-413). Further, it enhances efficiency in the process of informing members about development agenda as well as the plans of others in development process thereby ascertaining each member is up to date with the inspiring collective participation and developments mechanism. Through the variety of channels and facilities available through the internet including social, email and network sites like Facebook and Twitter, access to activist blog and news sites as well as picture sharing platforms, members of the community are able to attain commonness and oneness of purpose in regard to development process in an convenient and effective manner (Kavanagh, 2011, pp. 7-27). This is attained through Internet provision of the popular, fast, user friendly and customized platforms that make it easy for users to share ideas and experiences.
- The Effectiveness of the Internet as a Mobilization Tool
The wide range of channels and facilities for communication, interpersonal contact and interaction provided by the Internet provides to the community a strategic and effective members mobilization approach in activism for its development decisions interests. The Internet avails convenient and practical advantages in the stakeholders’ engagement process for the effective involvement of the community in decisions development. The popularity, ease of use and extensive reach of the Internet ensures a broad variety of opinions and voices acquire hearing apart from enabling an understanding of the relevant issues in the decision making process among members of the community (Stern & Dillman, 2006, pp. 411-413). This ensures community members anticipate issues before they can escalate and the stakeholders’ relationships develop into varieties and intensities favorable for community efforts to influence the decisions and programs of their welfare. The Internet also enables the community in development and establishment of constructive and close associations with the stakeholders sympathetic to its cause thereby enhancing its lobbying influence in developmental decisions (Kavanagh 2011: 7-19). The broad reach of the Internet as well as its popularity also promotes community participation in development decisions by facilitating a more informed, constructive and extensive debate on programs and policies such that all the members acquire knowledge on them and they are able to develop personal identities with such plans. Such debates also lead to development of innovative, new ideas and exhaustive consideration of planned programs or policy’s impact as well as promotion of policy outcomes and designs that match the interests of the community with the effects on different aspects of the community been minimal. Thus, the internet contributed to a more suitable and improved balance between competing needs of members of the community and stakeholders in the decision development process, besides, it ascertains the informed and active participation of a large percentage of the community members in the process of decision making (Chapman & Knott 2013:2-7). It facilitates collaborative nature, inclusivity and transparency of the process by offering easy to use , popular and convienient platforms for members so they can access information, idea expressions and interactions.
- The Internet’s Usefulness in Effective Stakeholder Contact
Effective stakeholder contact is an effective aspect in assurance of authoritative and significant community members in participating in the process of decision making. Stakeholders comprise of all persons, and institutions that are concerned with decision making in one manner or another. Effective stakeholder contact should entail a combination of outcomes that are effective in relation to various crucial aspects of the process of stakeholders’ engagement. The Internet facilities and platforms also enhance convenience, value as well as efficiency in these aspects through the high level of effectiveness and reach in preservation and building of an intensive social capital (Stern & Dillman 2006:409-413). The Internet first offers an ideal platform for stakeholders and partner identification by activists as well as the community including financial/funding partners through social networks like Twitter, provision of colleagues and friends email contacts as well as attractions of interest via blog postings and information availability on websites of civil societies (Roman 2013:19-23). Details on the development decisions issues that are relevant can also be easily availed online by all stakeholders making it possible for them to learn as well as respond/provide feedback online as well as share their ideas and thoughts. Through these channels and methods on the Internet, the involvement of the communities in decisions development can benefit from efficient capacity building and valuable contributions by varying members of the community and evaluations of effectiveness of proposed programs and policies (Kavanagh 2011: 7-16). The internet therefore promotes crucial aspects of community involvement that is effective in the mechanism of development decision, provision of information, facilitation of consultations as well as promotion of broad participation as well as enablement of collaborations among varying stakeholders and empowerment of community members in the manipulation of program decisions and proposals (Chapman & Knott 2013: 4-10). This boosts democracy and enhances inclusivity in the participation of the community through fostering freedom of expression as well as allowing broad participation in the process of decision making as such, promoting influence of all members of the community on development decisions.
- The Internet as an Effective Tool in Community participation in Development Negotiation
The Internet acts as an effective and convenient tool in transmission of community ideas as well as actual influence of representatives in the process of decision making. The channels and facilities available online for the members of the community are convenient for the eloquent, unambiguous expression and articulate expression as well as outlining their anticipations, needs and interests in development decisions (Stern & Dillman 2006: 409-412). This is a major advantage taking into consideration other channels, like verbal expressions during private audiences and gatherings pose the risk of misrepresentation of requirements or distortions of the messages and requirements from members of the community thereby, attracting frustrations and disagreements in decision process.
- Internet Convenience in Contacting and Influencing Development Representatives
Community representatives in developmental decisions include appointed and elected legislative assemblies members and politicians in local and national government structure (DN 2013: 8-11). Without Internet, members of the community have to seek representatives physically in their offices as well as other forums in order to communicate the concerns and wishes they have in development processes and decisions. The Internet gets rid of this inconvenience and also enhances the capabilities of the members as well as their active contributions in the mechanism of decision making by offering a platform for contact of their representatives at any time and in an effective manner. Internet feature like social network forums such as Twitter and Facebook, emails and activist blogs also provide members with cheap and efficient channels through which they can interact with representatives and also communicate any concerns they have in an articulate manner. This ensures the opinions of community members are heard by the representatives regardless of their group and class differences (Stern & Dillman 2006: 409-413).
Further, the Internet also enables lucid communications of concerns by the community even when the issues are sensitive for instance, race based issue: this is attained through anonymous postings on Internet platforms.
- Internet Convenience in Representing, Planning and Executing Stakeholder Interests
The Internet presents variety of channels that can be used for efficient communication and interactions among stakeholders of development decision through the entire process. This is attainable through communication of information during meetings and outcomes of each stage on websites, news articles, blogs as well as social networking forums (Stern & Dillman 2006:420-421). It aids enhance 2 way exchange of information through the process between decision structures and community (Woolbank, 2013:11-13). These facilities also play an important role in sponsoring the feelings and passions of the community members of active process ownership, based on the level of satisfaction the process incorporates in their input.
The influence of the Internet on participation nature of community members in decisions development is concerned with provision of a competent, effective and efficient, communication, information sharing, contact processes and interaction processes that are crucial in the entire process. The broad range of facility forums, activist blog, social network sites, corporate and other kinds of websites enhance the efforts of the community in capacity building, partnerships, opinion mobilization and establishment of common purpose and oneness within the community. This boosts the productivity and quality of the involvement of the community through effective influence on partnerships and representatives with stakeholders through the process.
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Kumar, H. (2005). Social Work and Developmental Issues. Aakar Books, New Delhi, India
Roman, D. (2013). Reflections on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Policy and Consultation/Negotiation Process: a Case Study Approach. University of Technology, Sydney, p. 1-38
Stern, M., & Dillman, D. (2006). “Community Participation, Social Ties, and Use of the Internet”. City and Community, 5: 4, p. 409-421, retrieved on August 15, 2013 from: http://www.academia.edu/164121/Community_participation_social_ties_and_use_of_the_Internet
Woolbank, D. (2013). Engaging with the Community about Change: a Practitioner’s Perspective. Straight Talk Presentation, p. 1-59