Horizontal Learning and Social Media in an International Development Network

  • Terence Gibson

Student thesis: Phd


The University of ManchesterTerence David GibsonDoctor of PhilosophyHorizontal Learning and Social Media inan International Development Network2011The growth of networks in international development, accelerated by communications possibilities provided by new social media, offers the potential for richer access by local groups to information and ideas on which to base development activities. However, a long history of participation in development shows that information is often imparted in a top down way, vesting control and power in institutions external to the local groups who wish to make use of it.Frameworks for social learning such as Communities of Practice tend to focus on collaborative learning from experience, rather than such a 'top down' transmission of information, offering the possibility that they may enable horizontal learning between geographically distributed groups linked by social media.Through a three year co-operative enquiry within the newly established Global Network for Disaster Reduction, this action research investigates whether horizontal learning employing social media can enable this network to share learning and thereby support grassroots development.The research finds that the structure and relationships within such an internationally distributed network lead to a qualitatively different mode of learning framed as a Community of Praxis. It proposes that this framework can be further elaborated and applied within network contexts to encourage the possibility of a different emphasis in development.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Barry (Supervisor)


  • horizontal learning
  • social media
  • network
  • international development

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