This study examines the role that community networks can take in fulfilling McQuail's call for a more democratic participant form of media. Community networks, which are grassroots organizations designed to promote local community initiatives, increased their presence on the Internet in the 1990s. However, in recent years their number has declined. Research suggests that community networks fail because they lack a unified identity, have not determined their specific purpose on the Web, and do not provide relevant information to network members. Findings suggest that community networks wishing to achieve sustainability should concentrate their efforts on developing social capital and fostering strong democracy on their sites. The extent to which existing community networks are working toward developing such content is assessed.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Communication (CLA)


Rudy Pugliese

Advisor/Committee Member

Franz Foltz

Advisor/Committee Member

Bruce A. Austin


RIT – Main Campus