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Virtual Communities and Online Social Capital

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Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)

Abstract

Social network sites are said to have the potential to create virtual communities. In this respect, the medium’s particular affordances and patterns of engagement have been viewed both optimistically and pessimistically. On the one hand, online social networks have been described as ‘virtual communities’ to highlight their socially beneficial qualities and as an indicator of renewed ‘community’. The rise of digital media has therefore generated hope about the recovery of community in an electronic form through social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, negative claims have been made that heavy social network site users are more likely to be socially isolated than occasional users and that new technology leads to a breakdown of traditional community. This negative account views online networking as a sign of a fragmentation of identities and the disintegration of community. This chapter addresses debates about the qualities of remote and face-to-face interaction, the relationship between the two and how the societal disadvantages and benefits of these connections have been described and assessed. It explores the ways that these online associations are thought to affect social cohesion, participation and the generation of social capital. The concept of ‘community’, ‘virtual community’ and ‘social capital’ is therefore examined in relation to the idea of the ‘personal’ and ‘network’ to consider the role of social network sites in fostering social cohesion online.

Keywords

  • Social Capital
  • Social Medium
  • Social Network Site
  • Virtual Community
  • Traditional Community

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137314444_8
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© 2013 Deborah Chambers

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Chambers, D. (2013). Virtual Communities and Online Social Capital. In: Social Media and Personal Relationships. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137314444_8

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