Social Media Use as Urban Acupuncture for Empowering Socially Challenged Communities

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article explores potential roles of social media in community empowerment, based on a study of a non-profit NGO in a socially challenged suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. In particular, it focuses on the relation between on-line and off-line behavior, and how the use of social media can counteract negative influences in the community, e.g., drug abuse and gangsterism. Interviews with staff and participants reveal that use of social media in the context of a socially challenged community results in social media use, and connections between online and offline activities, that stands in contrast to earlier social media research. These differences may inform design and social innovation for disruptive interaction to address negative influences, such as drugs and gangsterism, in socially challenged communities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban Technology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)79-96
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


  • Interaction design
  • Social innovation
  • Social media
  • Urban acupuncture


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