PolNet has announced this year's winner of the Best Conference Paper Award, awarded to the best paper on political networks presented at a conference in the previous year. This year's winner is "It Takes a Village: Peer Effects and Externalities in Technology Adoption" by Romain Ferrali, Guy Grossman, Melina R. Platas, and Jonathan Rodden.
“It Takes a Village” offers a novel theoretical development linking together two strands of important and timely research – how networks shape our behavior, and the degree to which technology can improve government outcomes and civic engagement. “It Takes a Village” demonstrates that the simple adoption of civic technology that does not consider how citizens might learn about it from each other is doomed to the worst fate of new technology- disinterest. This paper provides a timely and effective reminder of why considering citizens' social connections to each other matters for a host of political outcomes, even those online. Ferrali et al. provide a valuable and much needed theoretical framework highlighting the role informal institutions play in the adoption of new (political communication) technologies through their effect on the quality of communication in social networks.