Knowledge and learning in online networks in development: a social capital perspective

The paper examines whether the concept of social capital can facilitate our understanding of online networks in development. Much of the knowledge generation and social learning in development takes place in networks, which are increasingly online. Although these networks are assumed to be a positive force in development, there are many unknowns about them, partly because they are in their infancy. The concept of social capital has traditionally been applied to examine the functioning of groups and societies. More recently, it has also been applied to development and to online networks outside development. Three non-development approaches to examining social capital in online networks and communities are reviewed in the article. Elements of these approaches, combined with development-related aspects, are used to produce a framework to facilitate the analysis of social capital in online networks in a development context.