Disentangling social purposes of online applications : linking forms of Web 2.0 use with access to social resources

U. Matzat, B.M. Sadowski, A. Nucciarelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic

Abstract

Even if the number of studies on the social impact of the internet has been increasing no consensus has been reached about the character of the relationship between internet use and social capital. While some studies find a positive relation, others do not or may even find a social capital reducing effect. Recent research has suggested that more detailed analyses are needed that focus on different forms of internet use that might affect the users' social capital in different ways. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of a refined approach for reconciling the different findings. It includes two elements. First, it analyzes in detail the time spent on different social forms of internet use and differentiates between the maintenance of existing and the making of new contacts using these services. Second, utilizing survey data of a random sample of internet users of a large Dutch city we further focus on a variety of concrete forms of social capital to which online services may -or may not- provide access to. The concrete forms of social capital are defined by the so-called resource generator (Van der Gaag & Snijders, 2005). They include knowledge resources, social support, access to employers who are looking for new employees, contacts to the press and news media, and a local contact who would be willing to provide physical help during moving. The results disentangle the social purposes that the different social forms of internet use can –or cannot- fulfill. We find that the use of most online applications, such as social networking sites, chat, and own blogs for communication with new contacts comes along with access to one application-specific type of social resources. For the use of other online applications, including multiplayer-games and instant messaging, we do not find evidence for access to any social resources. Only the use of discussion fora and blogs comes along with access to a variety of social resources that are helpful in different social contexts. The implications of the findings for further research on the social impact of the internet are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the General Online Research, GOR09, April 6-8, 2009
Place of PublicationWien
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Eventconference; Conference General Online Research, GOR09; 2009-04-06; 2009-04-08 -
Duration: 6 Apr 20098 Apr 2009

Conference

Conferenceconference; Conference General Online Research, GOR09; 2009-04-06; 2009-04-08
Period6/04/098/04/09
OtherConference General Online Research, GOR09

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    Matzat, U., Sadowski, B. M., & Nucciarelli, A. (2009). Disentangling social purposes of online applications : linking forms of Web 2.0 use with access to social resources. In Proceedings of the General Online Research, GOR09, April 6-8, 2009