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Publications - Abstracts:

How New Media Affords Network Diversity: Direct and Mediated Access to Social Capital Through Participation in Local Social Settings


This study examines how information and communication technologies – mobile phone, social networking websites, blogging, instant messaging, and photo sharing – are related to the diversity of people’s social networks. We find that a limited set of technologies directly afford diversity, but many indirectly contribute to diversity by supporting participation in traditional settings such as neighborhoods, voluntary groups, religious institutions, and public spaces. Only one internet activity, social networking websites, was related to lower levels of participation in a traditional setting: neighborhoods. However, when direct effects were included, the total influence of social networking services on diversity was positive. We argue that a focus on affordances of new media for networked individualism fails to recognize the continued importance of place for the organization of personal networks: networks, that as a result of the persistent and pervasive nature of some new technologies, may be more diverse than at any time in recent history.

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