Socially inclusive processes: new opportunities with new media?
The tools of Web 2.0 and its culture of open collaboration offer a number of new opportunities to individuals, communities and governments. At first glance, many of these opportunities appear to lend themselves to fostering socially inclusive practices, and the report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce in 2009 certainly claimed this. However; while there has been much discussion of social inclusion in policy terms, there has been little consideration of what it means in practice, and no evidence to link the efficacy of new media in enhancing that practice. We develop a conceptual framework to account for the practice of social inclusion, drawing on recent developments in media theory focused on the themes of hospitality and listening. This framework is used to analyse the government's Social Inclusion website and the online forum. Our analysis suggests new media may offer the potential for new opportunities for social inclusion, but there are a number of factors militating against these opportunities being taken up to good effect.