Which Factors Determine Our Online Social Capital? An Analysis Based on Structural Equation Modelling
AbstractThe relationship between social network sites and social capital has received much research attention. However, two research gaps can be identified in the existing literature. First, only few studies have examined online social capital as a resource in online social networks. In this regard, it is not clear how to validly measure online social capital. Second, while the factors influencing social capital, among them properties of an individual’s social network, have been investigated in offline settings, such factors have not yet been investigated in terms of online social capital. Addressing these gaps, we asked 1000 Facebook users to provide information on their Facebook usage and online friendship network. Employing structural equation modelling for analysing the survey data, we show that Williams’ Internet Social Capital Scales, which are commonly used to assess social capital in offline settings, can be used to validly measure online social capital. Moreover, we find that some of the variables influencing offline social capital, among them similarity in terms of sociodemographic attributes, seem less important in an online setting.
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