Dissertation > Culture, science,education, sports > Information and knowledge dissemination > Information and communication theory > Communication Theory

The Relationship between Use of Social Network Sites and Individual Social Capital

Author ChenYaZuo
Tutor ChenXianHong
School Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Course Advertising and PR
Keywords Social Network Sites (SNS) Relational communication Individual social capital Bridging social capital Bonding social capital
CLC G206
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Social Network Sites are important achievement of rapid development of Internet application and service, which represent fundamental transformation of virtual community from Web1.0 to Web2.0. Virtual community service in Web1.0 was driven by technology and content played a central role in application. Similar with of communicator-centered communication pattern of traditional media, BBS and web chatting room of early community service were in the charge of forum moderator or room administrator. Forum moderator or chatting room administrator created discussion topics according to anticipated subjects or content, and users participated in some discussion board or chatting room based on personal interest to browse information and leave comments. Due to immature technology at the very beginning of the popularization of Internet, technology development predominated in the Internet service while user requirement got an inferior part. Users came together on discussion topic on the basis of similar interest, but users always left forum or chatting room easily with very low cost because for anonymous identity, leading to weak ties between virtual community users.Along with the constant progress of Internet, users are no longer satisfied with receiving and sending information online, and turn to interaction with other users and further combine online communication and offline real life together. The coming of Web 2.0 brings new application patterns, that is, users take essential part in the development of Internet instead of technology and relations become the core of web service. RSS and trackback functions supported by Blog enable users to browse latest information of other linked blogs or sites, get to know page views of own blog, and record comments between owners of blogs, which support much more stable online relationship network. At the same time, technologies are improving motivated by increasing needs of users. Social Network Sites which build on real-name registration system support we-media and micro content communication, and further meet user needs of really social interaction. SNS illustrates revolutionary transformation from "man-machine dialog" to "man-man dialog" which realize the return to relationship between users from relationship between users and Internet application products, and represents bias of communication changing from content to relation. Robert Putnam, a distinguished social political scientist of American, pointed out that community network was essential to social capital and relational communication in community network played an important role in produce and maintenance of social capital. The representative scholar of social capital theory, Lin Nan, proposed that the origin of social capital rooted in social network and social relations. From these we see that relations are fundamental base and premise of social capital. Putnam distinguished between bridging social capital and bonding social capital based on form of social capital. Bridging social capital is linked to what network researchers refer to as "weak ties", which are loose connection between people providing useful information, new perspectives or special opportunities but always not emotional support. Bonding social capital is found in "strong ties", such as emotionally close relationships between family members and intimate friends.This paper studies communication features of SNS based on the perspective of relation, analyzes the impact of relational communication bias of SNS on social network of individuals and consequent change of social capital, and then inspects relationship between SNS usage and individual social capital. Taking RenRen.com as an example and investigating users of RenRen.com, we design scales and items adapted from classical measurement scale to measure SNS usage and social capital. From analysis of research data, we find that use of SNS has close interaction with individual social capital, and different SNS intensity and preference influence diversely. SNS intensity is positively associated with both bridging and bonding social capital. Information preference and social interaction preference enables users to maintain or intensify relationships characterized by some form of offline connection between old friends or acquaintances, and build new online relationships between users who are strange to each other before. Thus, information and social interaction preference are positively associated with individual social capital. However, social game usage has no statistically significant relation with individual social capital.

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