Re-examination of the existing database from the previous three-year research project to adapt the Onyx and Bullen scale to a survey on Canadian communities. The interview data is also being re-examined for questions and characteristics of agency in order to add indicators of agency to the scale. Indicators that will be considered are diversity and type of contacts, including evidence of both bonding and bridging ties; diversity as indicated by demographic information; network structure as suggested by levels of autonomy and decision making structures; leadership as measured by type (expert, positional or facilitative), and lateral or hierarchical structure, as well as relationship characteristics as defined by degree of overlapping network memberships. Resilience will be measured as evidenced by access to external resources.
Semi-structured in depth individual interviews and focus groups will be held with key network leaders and stakeholders using a “snowball” technique. Since agency is such a nascent theoretical construct as linked to the other two concepts, this will involve intensive fieldwork and interviewing (open ended, conversational, and semi-structured) using the original indicators from the previous research program, modified for this next phase.
Network community mapping will be conducted using a soft systems methodology (Checkland 1981; Checkland and Scholes 1990), describing the community in terms off its overall context as well as identifying community leaders, critical nodes and connectors and analyzing their interconnections and relationships.
Critical network connectors from the case study communities will be brought together in diverse on-line focus groups to explore the three concepts and to further refine agency indicators.
Communities of choice will be created in the form of e-clusters that bridge the case study groups and allow the pooling of social capital. This on-line network will serve the following objectives: i) to provide an on-going forum for the researchers and the groups under study to reflect on the research underway; ii) to link experts to these groups to address issues that may be raised through the research; iii) to facilitate networking between the groups to share lessons learned and best practices; iv) to provide an access point for other groups interested in similar social capital development; v) to encourage flexibility and dynamism within the groups through exposure to a broader social capital base.