Connected Communities is an action research programme that explores ‘social network’ approaches to social and economic challenges and opportunities. We concentrate on understanding, mapping and mobilising ‘real world’ face to face networks of support and exchange between citizens, small informal groups, public sector and third sector agencies, and private sector businesses. We aim to co-produce action with local communities in a way that takes into account what is already there.
There are good reasons for this approach. Networks have dynamic qualities through which behaviour, emotional states, conditions, and influence spread and cluster, often in quite specific ways. Any change and development programme must therefore pay attention to networks: the connections that make up people’s day-to-day lives.
Currently, reduced public finances force us to evaluate what the state can provide for communities and how communities can change to become more resilient. Social network approaches offer insights for new policy and practice frameworks to address this challenge.
Gaia Marcus on support networks and wellbeing.
Austerity, public service challenges, and new social and economic dynamics mean that we must find new ways of closing what we call the social aspiration gap – the gap between the world we aspire to and the one we have and are creating with current approaches and behaviors. - Steve Broome, RSA Director of Research
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