Special Issue "Social Media and Social Capital"

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A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Sonja Utz

Knowledge Media Research Center, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social media; online reputation management; trust; strategic information sharing
Guest Editor
Dr. Nicole Muscanell

Knowledge Media Research Center, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social media research; social influence; self-disclosure; self-presentation; individual differences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Social media allow individuals to very easily connect and exchange information with as many (or as few) others as desired. Importantly, the people we connect and share with can be very well known others (e.g., close friends and relatives), people we know less (e.g., acquaintances we see from time to time), or even people we don’t really know or have never actually met face-to-face. Thus, an important question is how the strength of these connections influences what types of information we seek from and share with others, and what the underlying processes are. Traditional research on social capital has shown the benefits people can get from their social networks; strong ties provide us with emotional support, and weak ties provide us with non-redundant information. These assumptions might no longer hold true on social media where different contexts and audiences collapse and individuals tend to have much broader connections.

This special issue will bring together papers that focus on generating a current understanding about: 1) the benefits people seek and receive from their social media networks (i.e., information, knowledge, and/or emotional support) 2) how tie strength influences which benefits people receive; and 3) the underlying processes, especially the role of (self-related) self-disclosure.

We particularly seek papers that are theory driven and demonstrate underlying processes, including moderating and mediating variables, that can explain more directly how social tie strength relates to social capital (what people can obtain from their connections) and disclosure (what people share with their connections). Moreover, because much research on social media is focused on Facebook use by American students, we especially encourage contributions from other countries and on different social media platforms. Contributions are invited from all disciplines including psychology, media studies, communication science, and sociology.

Dr. Sonja Utz
Dr. Nicole Muscanell
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • social media
  • social ties
  • social support
  • social capital
  • self-disclosure

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Social Media and Social Capital: Introduction to the Special Issue
Societies 2015, 5(2), 420-424; doi:10.3390/soc5020420
Received: 21 April 2015 / Accepted: 22 April 2015 / Published: 4 May 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (142 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract Social media, especially social network sites (SNS) such as Facebook have grown rapidly in popularity in the last ten years. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle The Impact of Facebook Use on Micro-Level Social Capital: A Synthesis
Societies 2015, 5(2), 399-419; doi:10.3390/soc5020399
Received: 5 August 2014 / Accepted: 21 April 2015 / Published: 30 April 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (152 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The relationship between Facebook use and micro-level social capital has received substantial scholarly attention over the past decade. This attention has resulted in a large body of empirical work that gives insight into the nature of Facebook as a social networking site and
[...] Read more.
The relationship between Facebook use and micro-level social capital has received substantial scholarly attention over the past decade. This attention has resulted in a large body of empirical work that gives insight into the nature of Facebook as a social networking site and how it influences the social benefits that people gather from having social relationships. Although the extant research provides a solid basis for future research into this area, a number of issues remain underexplored. The aim of the current article is twofold. First, it seeks to synthesize what is already known about the relationship between Facebook use and micro-level social capital. Second, it seeks to advance future research by identifying and analyzing relevant theoretical, analytical and methodological issues. To address the first research aim, we first present an overview and analysis of current research findings on Facebook use and social capital, in which we focus on what we know about (1) the relationship between Facebook use in general and the different subtypes of social capital; (2) the relationships between different types of Facebook interactions and social capital; and (3) the impact of self-esteem on the relationship between Facebook use and social capital. Based on this analysis, we subsequently identify three theoretical issues, two analytical issues and four methodological issues in the extant body of research, and discuss the implications of these issues for Facebook and social capital researchers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle Let the Weakest Link Go! Empirical Explorations on the Relative Importance of Weak and Strong Ties on Social Networking Sites
Societies 2014, 4(4), 785-809; doi:10.3390/soc4040785
Received: 30 July 2014 / Revised: 29 August 2014 / Accepted: 2 December 2014 / Published: 18 December 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (545 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Theoretical approaches as well as empirical results in the area of social capital accumulation on social networking sites suggest that weak ties/bridging versus strong ties/bonding social capital should be distinguished and that while bonding social capital is connected to emotional support, bridging social
[...] Read more.
Theoretical approaches as well as empirical results in the area of social capital accumulation on social networking sites suggest that weak ties/bridging versus strong ties/bonding social capital should be distinguished and that while bonding social capital is connected to emotional support, bridging social capital entails the provision of information. Additionally, recent studies imply the notion that weak ties/bridging social capital are gaining increasing importance in today’s social media environments. By means of a survey (N = 317) we challenged these presuppositions by assessing the social support functions that are ascribed to three different types of contacts from participants’ network (weak, medium, or strong tie). In contrast to theoretical assumptions, we do not find that weak ties are experienced to supply informational support whereas strong ties first and foremost provide emotional support. Instead we find that within social networking sites, strong ties are perceived to provide both emotional and informational support and weak ties are perceived as less important than recent literature assumes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle Trust into Collective Privacy? The Role of Subjective Theories for Self-Disclosure in Online Communication
Societies 2014, 4(4), 770-784; doi:10.3390/soc4040770
Received: 3 July 2014 / Revised: 1 December 2014 / Accepted: 4 December 2014 / Published: 15 December 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (143 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In order to build and maintain social capital in their Online Social Networks, users need to disclose personal information, a behavior that at the same time leads to a lower level of privacy. In this conceptual paper, we offer a new theoretical perspective
[...] Read more.
In order to build and maintain social capital in their Online Social Networks, users need to disclose personal information, a behavior that at the same time leads to a lower level of privacy. In this conceptual paper, we offer a new theoretical perspective on the question of why people might regulate their privacy boundaries inadequately when communicating in Online Social Networks. We argue that people have developed a subjective theory about online privacy putting them into a processing mode of default trust. In this trusting mode people would (a) discount the risk of a self-disclosure directly; and (b) infer the risk from invalid cues which would then reinforce their trusting mode. As a consequence people might be more willing to self-disclose information than their actual privacy preferences would otherwise indicate. We exemplify the biasing potential of a trusting mode for memory and metacognitive accuracy and discuss the role of a default trust mode for the development of social capital. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle The Best of Both Worlds? Online Ties and the Alternating Use of Social Network Sites in the Context of Migration
Societies 2014, 4(4), 753-769; doi:10.3390/soc4040753
Received: 3 June 2014 / Revised: 29 July 2014 / Accepted: 4 December 2014 / Published: 11 December 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (178 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While an ever-growing body of research is concerned with user behavior on individual social network sites (SNSs)—mostly Facebook—studies addressing an alternating use of two or more SNS are rare. Here, we investigate the relationship between alternating SNS use and social capital in the
[...] Read more.
While an ever-growing body of research is concerned with user behavior on individual social network sites (SNSs)—mostly Facebook—studies addressing an alternating use of two or more SNS are rare. Here, we investigate the relationship between alternating SNS use and social capital in the context of migration. Alternating SNS use avoids some of the problems associated with large networks located on one site; in particular the management of different social or cultural spheres. Not only does this strategy hold potential for increased social capital, it also provides a particular incentive for migrants faced with the challenge of staying in touch with back home and managing a new social environment. Two survey studies are presented that focus on the relationship between alternating SNS use and online ties in a migrant context involving Indian nationals. Study 1 looked at migration within India, whereas Study 2 compared international with domestic SNS users. In both studies, alternating SNS use added to the prediction of online network size and accounted for differences in network size found for migrant and non-migrant users. Differences were due to the number of peripheral ties, rather than core ties. Findings suggest that alternating SNS use may constitute a compensatory strategy that helps to overcome lower levels of socializing represented through a single SNS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle Social Network Site Usage and Personal Relations of Migrants
Societies 2014, 4(4), 640-653; doi:10.3390/soc4040640
Received: 28 June 2014 / Revised: 19 September 2014 / Accepted: 31 October 2014 / Published: 13 November 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (159 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, we examine the relation between social network site (SNS) usage and the personal networks of immigrants, using a unique dataset composed of a representative sample of immigrants living in the Netherlands. In theory, SNSs can be a helpful tool for
[...] Read more.
In this study, we examine the relation between social network site (SNS) usage and the personal networks of immigrants, using a unique dataset composed of a representative sample of immigrants living in the Netherlands. In theory, SNSs can be a helpful tool for immigrants, because they may help establish social ties in the destination country and help maintain ties with people in the country of origin. We examine whether this is also true in practice by analyzing whether the frequency of using two SNSs—Facebook and Hyves (a Dutch SNS)—is associated with the number of ingroup and outgroup ties, as well as the quality of social relations. In addition, we test whether general emotional disclosure boosts the effect of SNS usage on the quality of relationships. We find that SNS usage is associated with more outgroup ties, but not with more ingroup ties. Our analyses also show that SNS usage is associated with greater quality social relationships among migrants. Contrary to our expectations, we found no interaction between general emotional disclosure and SNS usage on satisfaction with social relations. The implications of these findings are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle Unpacking Social Media’s Role in Resource Provision: Variations across Relational and Communicative Properties
Societies 2014, 4(4), 561-586; doi:10.3390/soc4040561
Received: 7 August 2014 / Revised: 14 October 2014 / Accepted: 15 October 2014 / Published: 23 October 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (570 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge existing beliefs regarding the exchange of social resources within a network. The present study examines individuals’ perceived access to social, emotional, and instrumental resources by analyzing relational and Facebook-specific characteristics of dyadic relationships. Results suggest that
[...] Read more.
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge existing beliefs regarding the exchange of social resources within a network. The present study examines individuals’ perceived access to social, emotional, and instrumental resources by analyzing relational and Facebook-specific characteristics of dyadic relationships. Results suggest that the social and technical affordances of the site—including visibility of content and connections, as well as streamlined processes for interacting with a large audience—may augment existing perceptions of resource access for some ties while providing a major (or sole) outlet to interact and exchange resources with others. Specifically, weaker ties appear to benefit more than strong ties from engagement in directed communication and relationship maintenance strategies, while additional variations were observed across relationship category, dyad composition, and geographic proximity. In summary, these findings provide new evidence for how positive relational gains may be derived from site use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)

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