Collaborative Culture vs Participatory Culture

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Caroline Haythornthwaite:

“To participate requires knowing how to provide a contribution, which is predicated on knowledge about the reach, content, and extend of community membership, behaviors, and concerns. It shares commonalities with ideas of collaboration … , and in many sense a “collaborative culture” may be synonymous with a “participatory culture.” If there is a distinction to be made, it is that they former tends to be used in referring to smaller working groups, particularly in the sciences; in interdisciplinary collaborations; and in the more general conception of “communities of practice” … . Collaborative culture tends to refer to groups that do the (often hard) work of learning to work with each other toward common goals and outcomes. By contrast, participatory culture signals a trend to societal practice, used more widely to encompass youth as well as adult practice, arts and humanities as well as sciences, and low barriers to entry. In embracing participation, both light- and heavyweight engagement need to be considered, in parallel to ideas of weak-and strong-tie social network formation … . Each kind of participation has its own merits. Mobility affords the opportunity to engage in information tourism, visiting sites, treading lightly in the online venue, viewing without making a mark, and retrieving without making a contribution. Mobility also allows finding the site where you want to settle, put down roots, and engage with community values and directions. Each has its own informational, social, and communal merits—weak ties for wider exposure to opinions and ideas; strong ties for personal commitment and motivated contribution. They exist in parallel, and the spectrum of engagement is a constituent part of what is participation. Thus, each space depends on some heavyweight users and the many more lightweight users who connect this space to other venues.”



  • Article: Haythornthwaite, Caroline. 2009. “Participatory Transformations.” In Ubiquitous Learning, edited by B. Cope and M. Kalantzis. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, pp. 31-32, 35, 37.