The promise and potential of community engagement: Technical mediation within the regeneration paradigm

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Joshi, S

This thesis aims at developing new theoretical and practical insights for improving\ud the design and application of information and communication technologies,\ud within the context of community regeneration. It draws on two case studies\ud that demonstrate the disconnect that exists between tools and their context. In\ud particular, the research question of the thesis is: what roles do information and\ud communication technologies (ICTs) play in mediating and facilitating community\ud engagement within the context of regeneration and participatory planning?\ud I take as a starting point - an analysis of the anticipations regarding the\ud emancipatory/ transformative powers of technology, and then proceed to situate\ud the tensions and dynamics that exist between the rhetoric and the resistance\ud met in practice, within a larger frame of community centred regeneration.\ud Finally, I analyse how community-technology interfaces hold the potential of\ud creating a more inclusive and democratic decision-making process, provided a\ud strong emphasis is placed both on the social as well as the technical mediums\ud of integration. The three key research objectives that emerge from this thesis\ud are:\ud To critically interrogate the discourse of social inclusion within the context\ud of community-technology engagement;\ud To evaluate the case context with regard to the extent 'end users' are\ud involved in technical design and local planning processes;\ud And finally to arrive at a better understanding of what value can be added\ud to the community regeneration paradigm through more socially contingent\ud technical interfaces.\ud I employ the theoretical framework of Activity theory to analyse my research
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