DOES the Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital?<br />By Barry Wellman (2001) <br />
Robert Putnam<br />Network Capital: Relations with friends, neighbors, relatives, and workmates that significantly provide companionship, emotional aid, information, and a sense of belonging.<br />Participatory Capital: Involvement in politics and organizations that afford opportunities for people to bond, create joint accomplishments and articulate their demands and desires.<br />
Wellman’s Addition <br />Community Commitment: When people have a strong attitude towards community-have a motivated, responsible sense of belonging-they will mobilize their social capital more willingly and effectively. <br />
What is causing the decline in social capital?<br />The Internet?<br />Wellman’s study looked to identify a relationship between social capital and technology by looking at three views on the subject.<br />
Internet Increases Social Capital<br />Involvement in online communities acts as a starting ground for new relationships.<br />Online “meeting places” draw members in on the basis of common interests.<br />
Internet Decreases Social Capital<br />Diverting people from “true” community.<br />Competes for time with other activities.<br />Stressor that depresses and alienates.<br />Not all uses are social.<br />Blurs the home-work boundary.<br />Keeps people indoors.<br />
Internet Supplements Social Capital<br />“Presents the Internet as best understood in the context of a person’s overall life. It is integrated into the rhythms of daily life, with life online viewed as an extension of offline activities.” <br />
2000 Survey Findings<br />Internet use supplements network capital. <br />Internet use increases participatory capital. <br />Internet use decreases community commitment. <br />
Conclusion and Questions<br />Internet has both a positive and negative relationship with social capital.<br />Time online vs. time with family and friends.<br />Is it possible that community commitment (as defined by Wellman) will eventually be non-existent?<br />What affects would that have on society?<br />
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