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E-participation: Social Capital and the Internet

Fabio Sabatini () and Francesco Sarracino

No 2014.81, Working Papers from Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei

Abstract: Studies in the social capital literature have documented two stylised facts: first, a decline in measures of social participation has occurred in many OECD countries. Second, and more recently, the success of social networking sites (SNSs) has resulted in a steep rise in online social participation. Our study adds to this body of research by conducting the first empirical assessment of how online networking affects two economically relevant aspects of social capital, i.e. trust and sociability. We address endogeneity in online networking by exploiting technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures that exogenously determined the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet. We find that participation in SNSs such as Facebook and Twitter has a positive effect on face-to-face interactions. However, social trust decreases with online interactions. We argue that the rising practice of hate speech may play a crucial role in the destruction of trust

Keywords: Social Participation; Online Networks; Facebook; Social Trust; Social Capital; Broadband; Digital Divide; Hate Speech (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C36 D85 O33 Z1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ict, nep-ltv, nep-net and nep-soc
Date: 2014-10
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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