CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Bowling Online: Examining Social Capital and the Impact of Internet-Generated Interactions

Alon Gur

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Ian Lustick

Date of this Version: 01 January 2012



Part of who we are is whom we communicate with. That basic premise, that our family and friends affect our own personality, is accepted even in academic treatises that promote nature over nurture as determinants of personality (McCrae & Costa Jr. et al., 2000). Social capital, as a theory, is directly tied to that notion; we build a fund based on friendship and trust and favors – a trust fund, figuratively – and we “invest” in jobs or other relationships for the sake of personal benefit. Harvard Professor Robert Putnam’s 1995 Journal of Democracy paper and the follow-up book, Bowling Alone, hypothesize that America has declining social capital.

Putnam believes in the power of local relationships: "The challenge the country faces today is to do the equivalent of reinventing the boyscouts or the Rotary Club," and he believes that the Internet is incapable of this reinvention (Putnam 2000,17).

Has Putnam has misjudged the efficacy of aspects of Internet-generated relationships? Recent Internet-aided phenomena like the 2011 Arab Spring suggest that the Internet can contribute to social activism, and to a large degree. Through a series of experiments utilizing agent-based modeling (ABM), the effect of non-local interactions – those connections that are not predicated on being face-to-face, such as the types of interactions generated by the Internet – is examined.


American Politics | Communication Technology and New Media | Mass Communication | Models and Methods | Other Political Science | Political Economy | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change | Social Influence and Political Communication

Suggested Citation

Gur, Alon, "Bowling Online: Examining Social Capital and the Impact of Internet-Generated Interactions" 01 January 2012. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 05 June 2012




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