The Trust Map

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: School of Divinity, History and Philosop

Abstract

The proposed research project is based on the premise that trust and empathy underpin social equality, and a lack of trust can lead to social exclusion and issues in power dynamics. Although digital use (as a whole) has increased in the UK, this usage may not ameliorate social inequality or alter community disconnection. In fact, some attempts at digital inclusion may actually lead to greater social exclusion and alienation. As noted by Helsper (2012), digital and social inclusion are impacted by social, cultural and psychological factors, such as power and trust, alongside issues of access, motivation and confidence. Ten years ago, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2004) produced a report on power and the co-production of community trust in investigations of the digital divide. It suggested that digital resources are powerful tools that can aid in the reparative process of community building and reconnection. Ten years on, research has examined these issues separately, but no research has drawn all of the strands together, addressing the development of, and relations between, power, (mis)trust, empathy and exclusion/inclusion. This novel and timely research project examines the ways that trust (and legacies of mistrust) can lead to social exclusion and power imbalances within minority communities (broadly defined) impacted by digital exclusion in the UK. It does this by using: i) large-scale data analysis of the relation between digital inclusion and empowerment; ii) localized and sustained community-centred activities to investigate the links between digital disempowerment, social exclusion and trust; iii) ethnographic fieldwork and community focus groups to map trust and power offline and online; and iv) participatory community interaction along with the design and implementation of innovative hyper-local technologies to gather and visualise real-time data on community trust. Pilot groups will be consulted on the design of these technologies and, again, before they are deployed to community test sites for evaluation. The final product of these exchanges and data collection is the design of a 'Trust Map'--digital visualization prototype of trust. By investigating the interplay between trust, power, empathic behaviour between communities and social (in)equality, the project tests the transformational potential of online resources or tools for mitigating social injustice. While the project will map community trust between members and toward structures of authority, it will also map the next 'turn' in digital social research (Jankowski 2007); not just the creation of new technology to increase digital use and access to social services (Digital Inclusion Team 2007), but novel solutions to social problems through the use of digital engagement. This aspect of 'digital' as power is a significant one as digital currency becomes less of a choice and more a necessity in order to exist as an engaged and active citizen, in terms of government interaction and access to public services (Lips 2013). Digital inclusion, within the Trust Map, entails more than just increasing digital access and use--it is about communities, power and the potential for societal change.

Planned Impact

Results from the research will have significant immediate and long term impact on the Borough of Haringey and its residents. The community engagement and intensive fieldwork in Haringey has the potential to ameliorate feelings of mistrust and enable residents to exercise their power within the community. To that end, the project will directly impact community relations and cohesion through the use of digital technologies. Such improvements could serve as a model for other regions in the UK where citizens are affected by disconnection, alienation and digital disempowerment.

National policy-makers, local authorities, charities and cultural groups will benefit from the protocols of the project and the creation of The Trust Map, potentially using the map to better target their initiatives and community activities. Use of this tool could also improve the quality of life for the general public by offering tools and technologies that would allow service providers a greater understanding of the trust and power dynamics at play within the community, thereby, increasing the effectiveness of their service delivery.

Community citizens/users will actively participate in the co-design of technologies, allowing them to contribute their knowledge and histories to the reparation of community relations and the increase in community cohesion. By reducing digital disempowerment through situated technologies, the proposed research will also increase the potential for community members to contribute to digital enterprise and engage in citizenship activities that depend upon digital use or currency. Utilising digital tools to discuss community (mis)trust and questions of power will inform policy debates on public services, the authority and responsibility of the state and the future equality of all UK citizens.

By investigating good practice for working through issues of trust, empathy and power in online environments, the proposed research will advance efforts of researchers, stakeholders, third sector and other providers to create more equitable and supportive digital services. Establishing and spreading best practice in terms of working with communities and hard to reach populations will advance attempts by researchers to work within these communities and develop more novel participatory design technologies for community use. In addition to informing use, the proposed research also advances a more solid understanding of the role of society and culture in shaping how communities use digital technologies, and how these same technologies can be used to mitigate social and cultural concerns within communities.

Publications


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/M003566/1 31/07/2014 31/05/2016 £582,628
ES/M003566/2 Transfer ES/M003566/1 01/06/2016 31/01/2018 £412,237
 
Description Initial research was presented to the general public during the Festival of Social Science. During that workshop, participants worked through issues of trust, considered who they trust (and why) and began to work out ways to repair trust in the community once it is broken.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
Description Science & Security Policy Workshop - Organised by PaCCS and Dstl
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description The Social Impact of Digital Technologies in Cities Workshop/Consultation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Dot.rural partnership 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Department dot.rural
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution During this partnership, I was able to provide dot.rural with access to new research teams working on empathy and to link more humanities and social science work on trust to the trust community working within digital economy at Aberdeen.
Collaborator Contribution Dot.rural provided monetary and administrative support to the project, enabling the team to have office space and access to other services, in addition to enabling the project to participate in UK wide activities and digital economy discussions as a 'legacy project' affiliated with one of the RCUK funded digital economy hubs.
Impact We have produced two team reports on ubiquitous systems and the taxonomy of trust. We are also in the process of submitting a journal article on digital policy implementation and evaluation of tools for minority communities in the UK.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Durham County 
Organisation Durham County Council
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have conducted interviews and engaged in observations of participatory budgeting activities in the county and have engaged in meetings and collaboration-building activities with the organisers.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have met with us and helped to facilitate the process of reaching various participants involved in the planning and implementation of the participatory budgeting initiative.
Impact We are currently preparing a research paper on the findings from this initial work.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Glasgow Life 
Organisation Glasgow Life
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This partnership was enacted to consider the relationships between Glasgow Life, their employees and minority community organisations based in Glasgow. Through continued consultation, analysis of data and exchanges, the research team has been able to provide context, feedback and crucial planning to Glasgow Life's evaluation and commissioning process. This work has enabled new work (not funded by the grant) centred on the creation of new race and equality impact tools.
Collaborator Contribution Glasgow Life has provided staff time, access to resources, access to staff, access to facilities and guidance on their internal and external processes and policies.
Impact This collaboration involves Glasgow Life staff who work on equality and diversity, cultural services and policy, in addition to the research team whose specialisms include social inequality, race studies, politics, rights and justice. It is anticipated that the outcome of this work will be a report for Glasgow Life.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Haringey Council 
Organisation Haringey Council
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This collaboration has emerged through our shared interests in understanding the formation and loss of trust in minority communities impacted by digital and social exclusion. The team is working collaboratively with the council and its partners to gather important observations within the community about interpersonal trust and trust with various 'officials'.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners have provided information/data about their policies and plans, as well as access to various community groups and initiatives.
Impact At present, we have only just begun our data collection and fieldwork. Future work will include journal articles, reports, briefings and other items.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Island of Hoy Development Trust 
Organisation Holy Island Partnership
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Our team has begun working with the Island of Hoy Development Trust to identify various aspects of trust that may impact community cohesion, community participation and resiliency.
Collaborator Contribution The Island of Hoy Development Trust provides guidance on island processes and facilitates on-going interaction with community groups and island residents.
Impact No outcomes or outputs, yet, as we are at an early stage of data collecting.
Start Year 2014
 
Description British HCI 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was a panel talk at the University of Lincoln at the British HCI conference. The talk sparked a vigorous question and answer session that was also captured in twitter feeds linked to the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Citizen Participation Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In 2014 and 2015, we participated in a series of workshops and events arranged by the Citizen Participation Network, a 600 member organisation comprising academics, policy makers, citizens and practitioners broadly working in the areas of citizen participation and collaborative policymaking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Connected Communities conference (CCN+ Network: Citizen-D: Rethinking Citizenship in the Digital Age - Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact One of the project partners attended this events organised and sponsored by the RCUK cross-council programme, Connected Communities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Digital Personhood and EMoTICON Network Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Two established networks of professional practitioners, researchers and postgraduates met to exchange information about on-going projects, co-produce new ideas and make links, as well as form a list of priority funding recommendations that could be passed on to ESRC and EPSRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Empathy conference (Prague) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact About 100 people from various sectors, organisations and agencies gathered to exchange information and knowledge about empathy. A group of researchers from the EMoTICON projects, including the PI and a co-I of this project, attended. The PI presented research on the project as part of a panel on empathy in online environments and participated in a question and discussion with the conference attendees; some of whom reported their interest in participating in the project, their change in views and their desire for more information as the project advances.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Festival of Social Science - Who do you trust? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 60 general members of the community gathered to listen to a talk and participate in a workshop on forming, losing and repairing trust in society. Through activities in teams, the audience worked through a set of guided questions and then engaged in an intense period of questions and discussion with the research team. The session organisers reported increased awareness of the topic amongst participants and a greater clarity of the role of trust within society than before the workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Kick off event (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A launch event was hosted by Dstl in conjunction with ESRC to announce the start of the projects commissioned under the Empathy and Trust in Online Environments call. This event brought together project partners and research teams, along with representatives from the Home Office, DCLG and other government agencies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Meeting with the ESRC IAA funded Participatory Research Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact During 2014, one of the research team engaged in substantive meetings with investigators involved in the research hub at Durham University. These led to improved understanding of project goals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Participatory Budgeting Unconference (Birmingham) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a conference organised by the Participatory Budgeting network that brings together interested citizens, agencies and other sectors interested in participatory democracy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Personal Data and Trust Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Personal Data and Trust Network is a network brought together under the multi-agency Digital Catapult. Its goals are to bring together industry, the public sector, funders, researchers, innovators and government agencies in order to create protocols, tools and recommendations around trust and personal data in the UK. The network has ambitious aims to create and influence policy, share best practice, innovate ethically and co-produce shared platforms. Meetings are held throughout the year with specific networking and influencing activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
 
Description Postgraduate Event (EMoTICON and Digital Personhood Conference - Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 15 postgraduates from across the UK participated in an postgraduate training event organised by members of the research team during the EMoTICON and Digital Personhood conference in Leeds. This brought together future leaders in the field to discuss challenges to research into trust and empathy in online environments. Another gathering took place in 2016 that expanded on the initial meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Third sector meeting (Big Local - London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In 2015 and 2016, the research team began having talks, seeking advice and commenting on reports from Big Local, a £196m funded initiative led by Local Trust and Big Lottery to enable communities to make their areas better.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Third sector meeting (Involve - London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In 2014 and 2015, the research team began having high-level meetings with members of Involve, a think tank and charity specialising in public participation. These interactions have led to further consultation and development work on our shared interests of empowerment and inclusive public practices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Trust: European Research Co-creating Resilient Communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was a large gathering of researchers, policymakers and stakeholders in Europe brought together to consider the role of trust in European communities, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme of activities. The two-day event offered space to develop common ground around the issue of trust while also enabling collaboration-building for future funding initiatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description UK Network for Participatory Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Members from the research team attended events in the UK held by the UK Network for Participatory Research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description University Visit (Aberdeen) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A guest speaker from Vox Box was brought to the University of Aberdeen by one of the project team members to discuss cross-project aims, plan for potential future work and give a talk, attended by more than 30 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015