iSchool Research Conversation: The Importance of Social Movements’ Networks in Promoting Development Outcomes

Presenter: Maria Garrido, Research Associate with the Center for Information & Society (CIS) at the Information School, University of Washington (link to iSchool Research Conversations)
Date: 5/08/2009
Time: 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Mary Gates Hall 420

This research analyzes the way in which social movements make use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to foster networks of solidarity among civil society actors from different countries, and how the dynamics and activities of these networks contribute to improve the living conditions of marginalized communities. The research places the discussion of social movements’ networks in the context of Latin America. In particular, it draws upon the experiences of the Zapatista Movement in Chiapas, Mexico, to illustrate the way in which the actors that formed the Zapatista solidarity network are collaborating and working together with the movement’s members to improve the lives of the indigenous communities in the region.

The researcher proposes an analytical framework to examine the role of social movements’ networks in the development process from three different, although deeply interrelated, analytical dimensions: 1) The structure of the network; 2) the type of resources that flow in the network, and how these resources are promoting development outcomes; and 3) the factors at the local, national, and international levels that influence what networks can accomplish in pursuit of social change. Understanding the impact of social movements’ networks in development from these three analytical dimensions, the researcher argues, is imperative for furthering our knowledge about the role of ICT in the process of social change in Latin America today.