The effect of Internet use on social network heterogeneity and civic culture: Trust, tolerance, and participation

Eun-Kyung Na, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Research has recently come to recognize that the growing use of the Internet has important consequences for citizens' competence in public affairs. These consequences are not just informational in nature but also, and more critically, social. Principal among them is the growth of more heterogeneous social networks, which in turn should encourage social trust and increased civic and political participation. Scholars furthermore theorize that informal, heterogeneous electronic interactions become intertwined with offline (face-to-face) contacts, moderating the effects of online networks. This study tests and develops these ideas by: (1) canvassing the relative impact of online social network on broadening diversity in the nature of networks; (2) assessing the influence of online network heterogeneity on civic attitudes (i.e., trust, tolerance, and participation); and (3) examining the interactions of online and offline contact, and country differences, in order to detect moderating effects of sociocultural context. Data were collected from surveys of 327 Korean and 426 American college students. Findings suggest that online network heterogeneity indeed contributes to civic attitudes. Furthermore, two-way and three-way interactions between online network heterogeneity, offline contact, and country of residence indicate that involvement in offline meetings shapes the influence of online network heterogeneity on trust, tolerance, and participation; and also that these relationships differ significantly across cultures.

Subject Area

Mass media|Political science|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Na, Eun-Kyung, "The effect of Internet use on social network heterogeneity and civic culture: Trust, tolerance, and participation" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3225512.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3225512

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