Public Libraries and Democratization in Three Developing Countries: Exploring the Role of Social Capital

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This article explores the role of social capital. The authors develop a theoretical framework intended to facilitate systematic investigation of the contributions public libraries may make to democratization.

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14 p.

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Ignatow, Gabriel; Webb, Sarah M.; Poulin, Michelle; Parajuli, Ramesh; Fleming, Peter; Batra, Shika et al. March 2012.

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This article is part of the collection entitled: UNT Scholarly Works and was provided by UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 471 times , with 4 in the last month . More information about this article can be viewed below.

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This article explores the role of social capital. The authors develop a theoretical framework intended to facilitate systematic investigation of the contributions public libraries may make to democratization.

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14 p.

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Abstract: Investments in public libraries in developing countries have been made based on the idea that libraries contribute to societal democratization. Yet scholarly understanding of the relationships between public libraries and democratization is sharply limited. In this article the authors review historical studies of national public library systems that cast doubt on widely held assumptions that a positive relationship necessarily pertains between the establishment of public libraries and democracy. Based on this historical review and on sociological theories of social capital (e.g. Bourdieu 1986), the authors develop a theoretical framework intended to facilitate systematic investigation of the contributions public libraries may make to democracy. Using comparative historical and ethnographic methods, the authors analyze the relationship between public libraries and democratic systems of government in Namibia, Nepal, and Malawi, and find that in all three cases public libraries were established mainly during democratic regimes. However, they were not necessarily established by democratically elected governments directly, but rather because democratic regimes proved to be relatively open to the influence of diasporas and global civil society. The authors only find evidence of public libraries contributing to societal democratization, as the authors conceptualize the process, in Nepal and to a limited degree Namibia - countries that lack a long-established, empowered elite class. The authors discuss possible implications of our analysis for library scholarship and its relations to theories of development.

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  • Libri. International Journal of Libraries and Information Services, 2012, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 67-80

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  • Publication Title: Libri. International Journal of Libraries and Information Services
  • Volume: 62
  • Issue: 1
  • Page Start: 67
  • Page End: 80
  • Pages: 14
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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UNT Scholarly Works

Materials from the UNT community's research, creative, and scholarly activities and UNT's Open Access Repository. Access to some items in this collection may be restricted.

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  • March 2012

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  • April 6, 2012, 2:30 p.m.

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  • July 23, 2013, 10:45 a.m.

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Ignatow, Gabriel; Webb, Sarah M.; Poulin, Michelle; Parajuli, Ramesh; Fleming, Peter; Batra, Shika et al. Public Libraries and Democratization in Three Developing Countries: Exploring the Role of Social Capital, article, March 2012; [Berlin, Germany]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc81388/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.