The Networked Self: Collectivism Redefined in Civic Engagements through Social Media Causes

The Networked Self: Collectivism Redefined in Civic Engagements through Social Media Causes

Ozlem Hesapci-Sanaktekin (Bogazici University, Turkey) and Yonca Aslanbay (Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9723-2.ch014
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The number of digital networks established for a common social ‘cause' having passion of civic activism increase globally day by day. The purpose of this study is to provide explanations for civic engagement through social media causes. In the current study, a structured questionnaire is administered to 308 social media users in Turkey. The findings refine existing research bringing a new perspective to collectivism by explaining civic engagement in specific areas through social media causes in terms of individualistic values, self-identity (social vs. personal) and social media use. Overall findings ascertain social media's role on raising social capital while enhancing not only the individual selves but also collective performances through diverse civic cause engagements. The study has significant outcomes for both non-profit and profit organizations in building strategies of communication with their stakeholders through digital means.
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2. Theoretical Background

Although the global expansion of public relations industry is widely emphasized, there isn’t much solid evidence whether practitioners make sense of globalization, thus adapt the radically changing global realm (Bardhan, 2013). The globe is now an area that underlies the dynamism of distances as well as proximities as they are experienced by both individuals and their collectivities (Rosenau, 1995). In the beginning of the last century, modernity enters history as a progressive, rationally constructed movement that liberated humankind from everyday obligations and traditional bonds praising individualism. Starting in the second half of the last century, postmodern thought protests the negative consequences of modernity. That era is accepted as the emergence of a pre-existing reverse movement of search for community. The Internet reinforces this turn of societies in the developed world that are organized around networks of individuals rather than group or local solidarities (Wellman et al., 2003). Internet use improves individual relations, strengthening social networks (Hampton & Wellman, 1999). Lee and Lee (2010) found that people accessing Internet for online community have higher sociability than non-users. Wellman’s theory of ‘networked individualism’ suggesting, “this shift toward “networked individualism” involves the transition from spatially proximate and densely-knit communities in which people belong to more spatially dispersed and sparsely-knit personal networks in which people maneuver” (Boase & Wellman, 2004, p. 1), has important implications for civic engagement through social media causes (Wellman et al., 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collectivism: Collectivism, represents a preference for a tightly-knit framework in society in which individuals can expect their relatives or members of a particular in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Social media: Social media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”

Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society.

Individualism: Can be defined as a preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of only themselves and their immediate families.

Self-Identity: Self-identity is a collection of beliefs about oneself.

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