Int. J. of Web Based Communities   »   2010 Vol.6, No.3



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Title: Bridging and bonding in social network sites – investigating family-based capital


Author: Petter Bae Brandtzaeg, Jan Heim, Birgit Hertzberg Kaare


University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; SINTEF ICT, Forskningsvn. 1, 0314 Oslo, Norway.
SINTEF ICT, Forskningsvn. 1, 0314 Oslo, Norway.
Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1093, Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway


Abstract: This study explores the relationship between three distinct dimensions of social capital (bridging, peer-bonding and family-bonding capital) in social network sites (SNSs). We ask what kinds of social relations are sought by SNS users and whether the usage of new SNSs contributes to family bonding. A representative sample of the Norwegian internet population shows that 25% use SNSs to communicate with family members once a week or more often, but peer bonding is significantly more frequent (53%). Further, male users are significantly less interested in future family contacts in SNSs than females. Both online bridging and family bonding differ significantly between age groups. Answers to an open-ended question demonstrate a wish to strengthen relationships with friends and acquaintances in SNSs. Contact with family is not reported as a main motivation for using SNSs (1%), while other social relations account for 74% of the motivations. However, the results of the study indicate that the majority of the respondents experience SNSs as a part of their daily communication routines, both to bridge new online contacts and to strengthen bonds with their existing offline ties.


Keywords: social network sites; SNS; design; social capital; family relations; gender differences; bridging; peer bonding; family bonding capital; Norway; social networking; web based communities; online communities; virtual communities.


DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2010.033750


Int. J. of Web Based Communities, 2010 Vol.6, No.3, pp.231 - 253


Available online: 30 Jun 2010



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