Community Action and Social Media: Trouble in Utopia

Allister McCabe, Kevin Harris

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


This briefing paper is based on an exploratory study of the use and non-use of social media by community groups and small, more formal, voluntary organisations in England. The study followed a detailed literature review (Working Paper 139) and explored the gap between the claims for the transformative power of social media, and its use by grassroots community groups and organisations. It also considers more generally how organisations relate to these technologies and their evolving culture.
The research considered:
 evidence that social media use ‘makes a difference’ for small voluntary and community sector organisations
 the benefits and costs of investing in a social media presence, and
 explanations for non-use and lapsed use of social media.
The study suggests that despite the compelling logic of social media use, there are fully-understandable reasons why it has not been adopted as widely by community organisations and groups as some might have expected. Beyond the positivist rhetoric around the transformative power of online exchanges and communications, Utopian visions may need to be reviewed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham
PublisherTSRC, The University of Birmingham
Number of pages75
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2017


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