Internet Use and Social Capital: The Strength of Virtual Ties

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The introduction of the Internet has represented a wave of global change amongst society. It has changed a large scale of aspects; socially, economically and culturally. It has caused society to change how they carry out day to day activities and how they communicate. Many academics would suggest that the world has essentially become a much smaller place as forms of global communication have evolved and is now quicker and easier than ever. The internet ‘has the unique ability to transmit information and build relationships among large groups of physically disconnected individuals’. (Pasek: 2009:6) The inception of the Internet came about in the 1980’s but it wasn’t until a global boom of users erupted as it became more affordable in the 1990’s. Since then, a more broad-minded generation has been born. Today, there is an increasing number of households with internet access. (60% of American households have internet access) (Quan-Haase: 2002: 1). Many people state that ‘access is a daily activity… [and it affects] the way people live, work and play in the developed world’. (Quan-Haase: 2002: 1) Millions of people have internet access on their smart phones which means that accessing the internet can be done anytime, anywhere. Research shows that the majority of younger generations are online, ‘88% in 2006’. (Pasek: 2009: 4) This wave of change has led academics to examine how society is affected in terms of communication. The advantages seem endless, people can face-to-face video chat with each other no matter of their geographic location. The use of the internet does however, have its disadvantages. Does the internet make society less sociable and thus lose out on resources to gain social capital? There is a wide range of defi... ... middle of paper ... at: (Accessed: 01/12/2013). * Putnam, R., D., (2007) ‘E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture.’ Scandinavian Political Studies 30, no. 2 pp. 137-174. * Putnam, R (2001) 'Social Capital: Measurement & Consequences ', Canadian Journal of Policy Research, (), pp.1-3 Available at: (Accessed: 01/12/2013). * Quan-Haase, A. & Wellman, B. (2002) ‘How does the Internet Affect Social Capital’ in M. Huysman & Wulf, V. (edn) IT and Social Capital. Available at * Siisiainen, M (2000) Two Concepts of Social Capital: Bourdieu vs. Putnam, Dublin: University of Jyvaskyla.

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