Does Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital?

The American Behavioral Scientist association did a research study to see how the internet affects social capital. They published their results and analyzed them in the article: Does the Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital? I was extremely intrigue and curious to read this article because I have always been interested in knowing how the internet has changed the way society interacts.

Many years ago, the world was completely different and much slower than today. The article suggests that community ties were much more appreciated. There was no email, just plain old fashion post-cards to remain in touch with those far away. Then, communication slowly took a turn when the internet was introduced. People had the opportunity to send email’s to stay connect to those far away and you could find people that you haven’t talked to in years. Now, social networks, such as facebook, myspace, and hi5, have allowed people to show pictures, videos, and share stories with your friends all around the world. Not only has communication among people changed due to the internet, but the way businesses operate since they are more cost effective. The world is completely different and society is adjusting to these changes. Some people are agaisnt the internet, others things is a very useful tool that enhances social capital.

The authors of the article, Barry Wellman, Anabel Quan Haase, James Witte, and Keith Hampton, concluded that  “greater use of the Internet may lead to larger social networks with more weak ties and distasteful interaction with some of these ties, resulting in lower commitment to the online community.” I do agree that the internat may lead to larger social networks, since it is easy to become a member and you can stay close connected to your friends and family that are live far away. Also, I do feel that ties will be weaker, no distasful however. People are always going to stay connected to their social circle and family and I find difficult to see a decrease in online community commitment.

Therefore, I do feel that the internet has a positive effect on social capital because people have the opportunity to build new bonds.


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