Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Connections versus relationships

Yesterday in class we discussed social network analysis and how it emphasizes the connections existing in a network (community). One of the critiques of the method that was raised was that connections may not mean the same as relationships. I have seen this in the community of youth that I have been observing. Sometimes we see that it appears the youth have relationships with each other --but they are only connections without the deep underlying affects related to friendship. In one example, a young man who had many, we thought strong, connections to others within the group stopped participating. Even those whom we thought had good relationships with him were unable to encourage him to participate anymore. Apparently he was connected to members in the group, but did not have real, meaningful relationships within the community.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Contributing to the function of the LC

In my literature review on learning communities that I am doing for Dr. Reeves' course, I discuss several ways of conceptualizing what a learning community is, including a functional concept--or rather, that every member of the community is working towards the same function or end goal. One example might be a learning community organized at work or a classroom community, clearly organized for a particular purpose.

Going back to this youth religious community that I've been observing, there's one boy who emotionally connects to our community--he has friends in the group, he has participated before, he is always welcomed when he comes, he enjoys the activities we do, etc. However, he has stopped participating in the community. This was surprising--why would he stop when he has such a strong emotional connection to the members of the community, so we thought? In talking with his family members, we learned that he did not feel he was doing his part, playing his role, in the community, and so he didn't want to participate and just be a freeloader. So even though we would welcome him anytime, he no longer felt like part of the community because he was not actively participating in supporting the goal or function of the community.