This chapter focuses on networks as informal knowledge management systems and as vehicles for supporting collective action in communities and social movements. A networking approach to empowerment is developed using a ‘circuits of power’ model that emphasises the value of boundary-spanning work in promoting cohesion and managing diversity. Community development work supports formal organisations and groups, helping them to set up, grow, evolve and occasionally dissolve. These often emerge from and are sustained by networks of volunteers, activists and professionals that are constantly changing. Community development workers need to understand how networks operate, what functions they perform for individuals and communities, and how they can be supported.
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