Urban Governance and Social Innovation

Mapping an Emerging Field: Local Memory Websites


Online platforms for collecting local memories are often claimed to be a driving force of empowerment for individuals, groups and the community as a whole. Long term online participation especially plays a key role in the claims for empowerment on group and community level. However, the present research on local memory websites lacks empirical data to substantiate these claims and leaves aside questions about their wider presence, the way they are organized and how their particular structure and affordances enable online participation. To address these issues, we develop six analytical dimensions in order to analyse a comprehensive number of such sites, examining in particular their organizational and online participatory features. On the basis of a cross-sectional design including 80 cases from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and various other countries, we show three types of websites can be distinguished, namely residential, institutional and associational. In addition, we find that the expectancy of online participation is maximized not only by organizational aspects that foster<br/>autonomy, but also by characteristics that enlarge the sense of authenticity. Our findings also show a limited number of cases with a considerable level of online participation, which offers the empirical data for analysis in terms of empowerment on group and community level.<br/>Nevertheless, we conclude that in most cases the organizational characteristics and participatory affordances of the websites are not sufficient to produce empowerment on all levels.

Reference de Kreek, M., & van Zoonen, L. (2013). Mapping an Emerging Field: Local Memory Websites. In L. Stillman, A. Sabiescu, & N. Memarovic (Eds.), Nexus, Confluence, and Difference: Community Archives meets Community Informatics : Prato CIRN Conference Oct 28-30 2013, Monash Centre, Prato Italy (pp. 1-14). Centre for Community Networking Research, Centre for Social Informatics, Monash University.
1 January 2013

Publication date

Jan 2013


Liesbet van Zoonen


Research database