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
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It functioned on a basis of who a person knows. This means that success is more likely if you came from a well off background. On the flip side, a disadvantaged person wouldn’t know anyone influential and thus would have no access to economic capital and so the inequalities are reproduced, with the disadvantaged struggling.
Putnam focused on the idea of reciprocity through civic engagement. ‘[N]etworks and the associated norms of reciprocity have value’. (Putnam: 2001: 1) He believed the main cause in the decline of social capital is the ‘long-term decrease in participation in voluntary associations’. (Ellison: 2006: 8) Resources accrue because of trust at a community level. He relates to the networks individuals make through bonding and bridging ties. His idea was centralised on the notion that social capital should be a set target that individuals should achieve. Membership in community led organisations brings people together and creates community networks. Putnam (2007) stated that social capital can be measured through how many friends an individual has and how many organisations they actively participate in. ‘The emphasis in modern societies on consensus [is] based on interconnected networks of trust among citizens, families, voluntary organisations, religious denominations, civic associations’. (Siisiainen: 2000: 1)
Coleman believed that social capital was available for all members of the community and not just those with wealth and power as

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