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Social Capital PhD Thesis Defence 26. 3. 2009


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Social Capital is the glue that holds the social fabric of society together. In today's new media scenario, what are the differences in the levels of social capital in youth who have access to both offline and online social worlds? Does the Internet supplement/complement/decrease social capital in youth? These are some of the issues that are sought to be answered in this PhD thesis by Kalyani Subramanian from the University of Madras, Chennai.

Published in: Technology, Economy & Finance

Social Capital PhD Thesis Defence 26. 3. 2009

  1. 1. Ph. D VIVA VOCE On and Off the Internet: An Exploratory Study of Youth Social Capital in Chennai in the Online Era KALYANI SUBRAMANIAN Dept Of Mass Media and Communication Studies University Of Madras
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Increasing focus on the impact of the Internet on personal relationships between youth within a larger community. </li></ul><ul><li>How the Internet affects the formation, development and maintenance of new online social relationships </li></ul><ul><li>How the Internet helps to sustain existing relationships offline. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Youth have a plethora of connections and access to resources in their offline and online social environments. </li></ul><ul><li>The mobilization of their social resources helps invest in benefits - (that help youth connect to and eventually make the transition to the adult world) - what is called Social Capital. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Relevance <ul><li>Current Demographics of Indian population – ‘Temple of Youth’ shape with increasing disposable income. </li></ul><ul><li>Early adopters of new technology. Most ‘ socially networked’ generation. </li></ul><ul><li>Online social interactions meet conditions necessary for production of Social Capital. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is Social Capital? Social capital refers to: • resources embedded in networks of connections among individuals that are mobilized for purposive action (Lin’s Social Resources Theory of Social Capital,2001) • norms of trust and support that come from social networks, creating a sense of community
  6. 6. <ul><li>The study of structural and functional aspects of social networks is the vital to a proper conceptualization of Social Capital (Siebert, Kraimer and Liden, 2001) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Structural Aspects of Social Capital Networks <ul><li>Network Structure – </li></ul><ul><li>Indicators : </li></ul><ul><li>factors that influence the extent to which youth are predisposed and able to join or form networks- offline and online </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Family Income </li></ul><ul><li>Parents’ Education </li></ul><ul><li>Internet Usage Patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Purposes of Use of Internet </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Personality Indicators : </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity Index </li></ul><ul><li>Entertainment Measure </li></ul><ul><li>Closeness with Friends </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction with Peers </li></ul><ul><li>Visiting Chat Rooms </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of Community, Trust and Help </li></ul>
  10. 10. Functional Aspects of Social Capital Networks : Nature of Resources Embedded <ul><li>Bridging and Bonding (Putnam, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Bridging social capital - that which reaches across to other groups and widens the frontiers of collective action </li></ul><ul><li>Bonding social capital- that which binds the members together into a cohesive bond in furtherance of their common interests </li></ul>
  11. 11. Functional Aspects of Social Capital Networks : Nature of Resources Embedded <ul><li>Bridging Social Capital: </li></ul><ul><li>Contacts With Broad Range of People </li></ul><ul><li>Linkages to External Sources of Information </li></ul><ul><li>Outward Looking Attitude </li></ul><ul><li>Viewing Oneself as Part of a Larger Group </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Bonding Social Capital </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional Support </li></ul><ul><li>Access to Scarce Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Homogeneity </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to Mobilize Solidarity </li></ul><ul><li>Out Group Antagonism </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>In explicating the concept of youth social capital, three forms were identified: </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks </li></ul><ul><li>Social resources and </li></ul><ul><li>Levels of changes in the resources due to an Internet stimulus </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>In this study, the concept of social capital within the framework of youth socialization is defined as offline and online social networks and social resources, that are mobilized to create a sense of pro-social community. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Youth who generate social capital in both online and offline social networks have two strategies of investment of social capital resources: its appreciation and/or avoiding its depreciation. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Research Questions <ul><li>What are the indicators of social capital formation in youth? </li></ul><ul><li>Do youth differ in their levels of social capital in the offline and online contexts and in what way are these differences related to the indicators of social capital formation? </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>What are the types of resources of social capital available to youth? </li></ul><ul><li>What role does the Internet play in terms of individual gains or losses in youth social capital resources? </li></ul><ul><li>Does Internet use increase, decrease or supplement youth's abilities to form and maintain various types of social capital? </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Respondents for the study were college going, internet using youth from Chennai between the age groups of 17 – 19 (younger) and 20 –23 (older). </li></ul><ul><li>A total of 1000 respondents were given questionnaires. Parallel measures for offline and online contexts were studied using the Internet Social Capital Scales (ISCS); (Williams, 2006) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Findings – Indicators of Social Network Structure <ul><li>Females had higher Internet usage than males. </li></ul><ul><li>History of use – early adopter profile , with higher number of females in this category </li></ul><ul><li>Internet – more popular medium used by youth to socialize </li></ul>
  20. 20. Purposes of Use of Internet <ul><li>Females used the Internet more for communicating with family and friends and meeting new people. </li></ul><ul><li>Males used it more for seeking information and for entertainment/escape. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus Internet is being used for solidifying offline relationships and at the same time not an isolating factor. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Respondents showed a high level of diversity in their offline social interactions, and also a high propensity for seeking out places of entertainment . </li></ul><ul><li>Respondents preferred to interact with their own age groups and gender offline , while preference is for other age groups and gender online . </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Females are less trusting online than males. </li></ul><ul><li>Males have lesser number of close friends within the city (Proximal Ego Networks) that they keep in touch with through the Internet, but have very close relationships with them – more depth in proximal social relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Females have larger Proximal Ego Networks but are less close to them than males – more width in proximal social relationships. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Females are much closer to their friends outside the city (Distal Ego Networks) that they keep in touch with through the Internet ( more depth in distal social relationships ) than males . </li></ul><ul><li>Males have a higher sense of community, trust and receiving help online than females. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Family income levels showed a significant impact on youth offline and online social capital . Youth belonging to middle income groups had higher offline and online social capital levels . </li></ul><ul><li>Youth, whose fathers had higher education levels, showed significantly high offline bonding and online bridging. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Younger youth (17 to 19 yrs) showed higher levels of online bridging . </li></ul><ul><li>There was also a significant positive relationship between males and online bonding . </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Do youth differ in their levels of social capital in the online-offline context and in what way are these differences related to indicators of social capital ? </li></ul>
  27. 27.  
  28. 28. <ul><li>The more outgoing and entertainment-seeking the youth are and the higher the diverse nature of their social contacts, the higher is their level of investment in offline and online social capital. </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>High levels of both types of social capital were also significantly related to their high sense of belonging to a ‘community’ , their sense of receiving help from others, and the element of trust in others . </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>The Internet plays a supplementary/complementary role in the social lives of the youth. Wherever youth had low investments in social capital, the Internet augmented this deficit. </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet also acts as a magnifying glass , expanding the communicative environment of youth who already have well-developed connections to other communicative resources.  </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>What role does Internet play in terms of individual gains or losses in youth social capital resources? </li></ul>
  32. 32. Means and Standard Errors of Online and Offline Social Capital Measures <ul><li>Variable Online Mean (SE) Offline Mean (SE) </li></ul><ul><li>Bridging Social Capital 58.35 (.251)* 60.21 (.239)* </li></ul><ul><li>Bonding Social Capital 49.42 (.285)* 53.91 (.241)* </li></ul><ul><li>Note. * p = .000 </li></ul>
  33. 33. Means and Standard Errors of Online and Offline Social Capital Subscales Note: * p = .000 Variable Online Mean (SE) Offline Mean (SE) CBRP 7.16 (.07)* 8.66 (.04)* LESI 21.75 (.09)* 21.77 (.08)* OLA 16.72 (.09)* 16.89 (.09)* VPLG 12.70 (.06)* 12.88 (.06)* ES 7.88 (.05)* 8.61 (.04)* ASR 14.50 (.12)* 16.63 (.10)* H 7.64 (.05)* 8.35 (.04)* AMS 11.47 (.07)* 12.78 (.06)* OGA 7.91 (.05)* 7.52 (.06)*
  34. 34. <ul><li>There are high levels of bridging and bonding social capital, both in the offline and online contexts among Chennai youth. </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis reveals that the internet does not totally erode what the offline world offers; it complements it. (Theory of Channel Complementarity) </li></ul>
  36. 37. <ul><li>New forms of social capital resources are formed when youth go online. </li></ul><ul><li>Wherever there are losses in resources offline, they are obscured by large gains online. </li></ul><ul><li>Large losses online are supplemented by gains offline. </li></ul>
  37. 38. Conclusion <ul><li>Chennai youth use the Internet for avoiding the depreciation of their offline investment in social capital and also for increasing their existing levels of social capital. </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet appears to supplement/complement offline social capital. </li></ul>
  38. 39. <ul><li>The effect of stratification factors and media usage behaviour are variables that influence the investment of social capital in youth. </li></ul><ul><li>Study provides evidence that online and offline social relationships are mutually constructed . </li></ul>
  39. 40. <ul><li>Structural and functional aspects of youth social networks reveal that most successful online social capital determinants are those with roots in the offline worlds and also that the most successful elements of online interactions are often felt offline . </li></ul><ul><li>When online interactions are combined with offline interactions, the overall relationships are much stronger, closer and intimate . </li></ul>
  40. 41. <ul><li>The study reveals that the youth ‘community’ of social activity is more a virtual community rather than a tightly bound geographic location. </li></ul><ul><li>Youths’ online participation serves to widen contacts and expand bridging social capital as well as reinforce bonding networks of likeminded individuals and interests. </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet does not change human nature, it just brings human nature online. </li></ul>