Digital Social Networks From a Social Capital Perspective

Digital Social Networks From a Social Capital Perspective

Suparna Dhar, Indranil Bose, Mohammed Naved Khan
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch076
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Digital social networking (DSN) sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, have brought about changes in the way people communicate, interact, and affected human lifestyle across the world. The phenomenon has permeated geographical and cultural boundaries, disregarded age and gender barriers, diffused social and economic strata, and transgressed linguistic and ethnic boundaries. Such widespread and intense impact of technology on human life is unprecedented in human history triggers academic interest in the phenomenon. The unique opportunities offered by digitization of social networking, the novel capabilities of information dissemination and foraging on DSN sites, along with widespread adoption necessitates theoretical interpretation of antecedents and consequences of DSN adoption. In this chapter, the authors offer a social capital perspective of DSN adoption.
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DSN is a culmination of the rapid evolution of information technology, aided by revolutionary advancements in telecom and computing technologies. The first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed the emergence of DSN sites such as Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and many others, refer Figure 1. Millennials have adopted DSN as part of their daily existence. It has empowered users to create and share content, a big difference from general users being mere consumers of content. The rapid proliferation and wide adoption of DSN has had a profound effect on social, economic, political, organizational and emotional aspects of human life (Kane et al., 2014).

Figure 1.

Users on popular DSN sites (adapted from Statista, 2018)


DSN sites are defined as “web based services that enable users to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (boyd & Ellison, 2007, p. 2). DSN allows users to create and exchange user-generated content, which empowers general users to publicly voice their opinions and views and find an audience for their creativity. DSN sites constitute websites facilitating networking or relationship building between people. Networking typically refers to forming a relationship with strangers. DSN allows people to network - to connect with strangers and expand their social horizon. It allows users to articulate their profile and make their profile and connections visible in the network (boyd & Ellison, 2007). The profile search feature on SNS aids users find people with similar interests and form new connections. It allows users maintain the relationship with their existing networks. In consequence, it aids users to maintain a larger network on DSN compared to offline social networks.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Capital: Denotes goodwill, fellowship, help and sympathy among connections in a social network that yields benefits such as support, solidarity, and access to resource.

Digital Social Network: Digital platforms that facilitate social networking, where individuals or groups (nodes) can articulate their profile and connections discoverable in the network and digitally interact with other nodes in the network.

Social Network: Social relations studied as a network, where individuals or groups are represented as nodes and their relationship and interactions are represented by edges.

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