What roles do social relations and networks play in education, information sharing and policy formulation and implementation?
In the words of William Shakespeare:
All the worlds a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits, and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
Social roles and networks play different roles in society depending on the situation ("situation specificity”) and use.
Social relations and networks in Information Sharing
The sharing of information has transformed immensely from traditional methods which involved the use of “hear say” or ‘word of mouth’ to social medias and now social networks. Social network community fosters a more subjective and holistic disclosure of information. That is information and its dissemination is now readily available globally through the use of the internet. Gone are the days of having to sit in front of the television or the radio at a certain time to hear the news, or about job openings and new agricultural products. Information is now readily available as individuals, groups etc. seldom hesitates to post information received despite of its substance or relevance on Facebook, Twitter or any social media. Conversely the age of informal information sharing is not ruled out as individuals and farmers still learn about new products (seeds, fertilizer etc.) over a glass of drink at a corner shop as it is in the rural areas or on the public transportation system as they travel. In summation social relations and networks play an informal as well as a formal role in information sharing as information can now be accessed by a variety of means through formal and informal channels.
Social relations and networks in Policy formulation and Implementation
Policy formulation and its implementation requires more than having a goal to achieve. In formulating a policy it is important to have all the necessary information and it is in this sense that social relations and networks play apart. For instance in formulating a policy to allow farmers to access better seeds for planting; meetings must be carried out with famers in order to hear their views and negotiate with them so that a solution can be met. It is here that the benefits of decentralized management are seen as the top management must come to the bottom to better understand what is happening. Social networks can also aid in disseminating information to policy specialist about other countries that has implemented a similar policy and the process, success, failures they experienced. Social relations tend to bring that finishing effect to a policy as it is through interaction that we learn and are made aware of any situation as well as receive guidance and information about in this instance a policy that has been implemented or in its formulating stage.
Social relations and networks in Education
Education is defined as a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research. Therefore this transformation happens formally and informally once in the presence of individuals or even by themselves. Children for instance learn from playing with other children in the park (social interaction) or by chatting on the internet (social networks). The process of educating never stops once one is alive. That is to say a common conversation is educating as participants will leave each other learning something new or refreshing something that was already learnt. Farmers attending a workshop held by the ministry is a form of education as they will learn of new methods to deal with agriculture issues; also farmers conversing as they plan will learn about a new fertilizer another farmer is using on his yields or about the success a farmer in another part of the country has had using drip irrigation while surfing the internet. The roles of social networks and relations snow balls into each situation as while an individual may use social networks and relation to share information at the same time someone else in learning. Social relations are one of the first methods of learning, sharing and growing as without these an individual is left alone in the sense that we can never really live without socializing with others.
The FSN Forum is supported by the project Coherent food security responses: incorporating right to food into global and regional food security initiatives.