Can online communities be social capital? The effect of online communities on individuals’ political engagement

  • Kyungmee Park
  • Sukkyung YouEmail author


This study used a political and social survey to examine the relationships among political efficacy, community activity, and political engagement in different generational cohorts in South Korea. A nationally representative sample of 777 Korean voters (age range: 20–59) was used for the analysis. We hypothesized that political efficacy is positively related to political engagement, both directly and indirectly, via mediating variables (i.e., both online and offline community activities). After we had controlled for gender, income, and educational level, the results revealed that the indirect effect of political efficacy on online political engagement via online community activities was significant for both the 20–30 age groups and the 30–40 age groups studied. For the 40–50 generation, offline community activities had a significant effect on offline political engagement. Political efficacy had a significant direct effect on online political engagement for both age groups.


Online community Offline community Social capital Political engagement Political efficacy 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A3A2924104).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, as well as with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chonbuk National UniversityJeonjuSouth Korea
  2. 2.College of EducationHankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulSouth Korea

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