Sharing is Learning; Influence of Social Network for Rural Development

Human are social animal and in today contemporary world when there is a revolutionary changes in human societies, there is a increasing trend of socializing on internet. In the developed world, the term “social networks” often illicit thoughts of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, and many, many more. In the developing world particular of rural setting, networks still depend, for the most part, on offline interactions.

In Pakistani context, “Choppal” and “Hujra” culture were some ancient form of social network and reconciliation. I can still imagine when in our childhood, my Grandpa was arranging village meetings in order to discuss agricultural-crops and animal diseases, water  and other conflicts and try to find solutions with the help of other villagers from same or different tribe and locality. However, these Newly emerging Social networks (on or offline) affected all of our lives; the people we know influence what we’re exposed to and the actions we take. Likes, comments, gaining weights, instructions, music?Blame your network. Got a job or sales promotion? Thank your network.  Access to information is by word of mouth, and a few central individuals often disseminate information from the top down to the remainder of a village. This is particularly true in agriculture sector-a necessary livelihood for most rural-bound individuals. And, because males are generally the higher performing producers, they are more central to village affairs and the targets for agricultural training and improvements. They are then expected to disseminate information outwards to the remainder of a village, but this rarely happens.

A recent study by Kathryn Vasilaky in Uganda-Africa revealed some astonishing facts regarding influence of social networking among villagers. They examined an intervention randomized field trials at the village level in which female farmers were randomly paired with farmers whom they did not know, and encouraged to share new agricultural information throughout the growing season for a recently adopted cash crop. Their study showed that the intervention significantly increased the productivity of all farmers except of those who were already in the highest quartile of productivity, and that there were significant spillovers in productivity to male farmers. These evidence of how social networking can influence learning new information via these new or weak ties increased agricultural productivity, specifically, for the previously less productive female farmers. It has affected yields: changes in the size or structure of individuals’ networks, knowledge expansion as a result of participation in the information meeting, and knowledge expansion as a result of learning through new network links. These results suggest a number of directions for future work, including developing a greater understanding of how new, weak network connections facilitate information exchange, whether information transmission via such connections is sustainable, and whether this methodology extends to other domains such as the adoption of health practices or information communication technologies.

Such social expansion in rural sector in Pakistan, where majority of population lives in disparity can share their indigenous knowledge for bringing prosperity in their communities. In Punjab and KP social organization such as “Choppal” and “Hujra” are some sort of social interaction which were source of information, reconciliation and bringing peace in their lives. Older people were sitting in a room to discuss issues and finding collective solutions. However, this socialization trend is getting weaker and now I cannot see such gatherings. Through such research in Africa, we can replicate the results in our rural areas which can help us in fighting social evils and alleviate poverty!

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