Different types of community networks

Social Policy Research Centre
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Australian Social Policy Conference, 2009, pp. 1 - 10
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Networks appear to be the basic ingredient of all community action. But what kind of networks, how formalized, for what purpose, and what specific impact are questions about which there is little understanding in either theory or practice. This paper explores three civil-society networks in Australia, which differ in structure, decision-making, and sharing. The research involved interviews of key informants in several organisations from each network. The first is a network with a ï½head officeï½. After establishment of ï½Job Networkï½, employment-service contracts were awarded to external agencies, and these agencies organised themselves into networks to jointly bid for contracts. These networks with formal structures proved difficult to manage. The second network is the Aged Care Alliance, which operates in a traditional civilsociety manner, with community organisations collaborating to mount a particular campaign, usually under the aegis of a peak body. This network has mounted several very successful campaigns. The third case describes a loose network, comprising a number of small, activist organisations operated mainly on-line and by young people. This type of network, although essential for the survival of these organisations, has no formalized structure. The three networks are treated as ideal types and are theorized, using complexity theory.
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