1 Social Capital and Internet Usage: A Study in Lisbon Bárbara Barbosa Neves Tese de Doutoramento em Ciências Sociais na especialidade de Sociologia Orientador: Professor Doutor João Bilhim Co-Orientadores: Professor Barry Wellman Professor Doutor Jaime Fonseca Júri: Presidente: Reitor da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa Vogais: - Doutor Barry Wellman, PhD, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology da Universidade de Toronto - Doutor Luís António Vicente Baptista, Professor Catedrático da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa - Doutor João Abreu de Faria Bilhim, Professor Catedrático do Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa - Doutora Anália Maria Cardoso Torres, Professora Catedrática do Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa - Doutor Jaime Raúl Seixas Fonseca, Professor Auxiliar do Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa Lisboa, 2012
2 Funding for this doctoral research was provided by the PhD Grant SFRH / BD / / 2007 of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). Co-funded by POPH/FSE. During this doctoral research I was a visiting researcher/scholar at NetLab, University of Toronto, and IMK, University of Norway.! ii!
3 When you want to escape from the world as it is, you can be a musician, or a philosopher, or mathematician. But how can you escape it as a sociologist? Some people manage to. You just have to write some mathematical formulae, go through a few game-theory exercises, a bit of computer simulation. To be able to see and describe the world as it is, you have to be ready to be always dealing with things that are complicated, confused, impure, uncertain, all of which runs counter to the usual idea of intellectual rigour. Pierre Bourdieu (1991:259)! iii!
4 ! iv! Dedication For Marcos, almighty companion, loving teacher, and proofreader extraordinaire. For my mother, Maria Helena, and my brother Tiago, my ultimate supporters.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 Acknowledgments Every time I had some epistemological doubt about what social capital is or means I would always think about my own life. Social capital has been instrumental in my life: I owe a great deal of what I am to my social ties. Coming from a family with low economic capital, my mother had to work hard to provide me with cultural capital. But my cultural capital would not be enough without the social capital I was able to reproduce, create, maintain, and mobilize throughout the years. This dissertation is a product of that social capital; it would not be possible without the contribution of so many friends. First and foremost, I want to thank my advisory committee: I thank Professor João Bilhim for all his support and encouragement. Professor João Bilhim has been my mentor since my master s research, and always challenged me to go further. I thank Professor Barry Wellman for the ongoing mentorship, for helping me becoming a better researcher, and for the social capital he provided me with. Having the opportunity to work with Professor Barry Wellman was a dream come true. He is not only one of the greatest contemporary sociologists; he is also a great advisor, and a great friend. The amount of things that I have learnt with Professor Barry Wellman is too extensive to describe or even to acknowledge, from improving my writing skills (e.g. to stop writing in passive voice and to embrace active voice) to learn how to value myself. I thank Professor Jaime Fonseca for all his assistance with my quantitative data analysis (especially for introducing me to LCM), but also for the constant feedback on my overall work, particularly on the interpretation of my findings. While Jaime was a late addition to my supervisory team, he provided invaluable guidance even before being part of it. I have also benefited enormously from the advice and support of Beverly Wellman, and Professor Fausto Amaro. Beverly Wellman was a valuable source of advice during my doctoral research, a loving friend, and an inspiring role model. Professor Fausto Amaro has been a perennial mentor in my research career, and spent a great deal of time reading and commenting my field notes, my s, and my multiple drafts. During this process, I had many different homes. At ISCSP (and CAPP), I specially want to thank Romana Xerez, Elvira Pereira, Carla Costa, Pedro Ferraz de Abreu, Anália Torres, Sílvia Vicente, Amável Santos, Acácio Santos, and Jorge Martins. I also owe great deal of gratitude to three institutions/communities. First, the NetLab team of the University of Toronto; they have received me so well and always made me feel at home. I am especially grateful to Natalia Kononenko, Julie Amoroso, Jessica Collins, Julia Madej, Tracy Kennedy, Bernie Hogan, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Wenhong Chen, Mo Guang Ying, and of course, Barry & Beverly! v!
6 Wellman. Second, the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) of the University of Oxford for the experience they granted me, for amazing comrades (Helen Hua Wang, Marian Arning, Lucas Graves, Jenn Barrigar, Monica Bulger, and Alice Marwick), and for my partner. Third, to the Institute of Media and Communication (IMK) of the University of Oslo that provided me with two wonderful years of exciting research and friendship. I am especially grateful to Elisabeth Staksrud (Jeg elsker deg!), Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Anders Sundnes Løvlie, Tore Slaatta, Helge Ronning, Gunhild Digernes Jakobsen, and Espen Ytreberg. Tusen takk! This research has been financially supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). I want to acknowledge their great assistance. The FCT has been financing my work since my masters research (since I was 23!). To all FCT s employees, especially the administrative ones that helped me during these seven years. Thank you! Finally, I have to thank my friends and, of course, my family. To the great friends I made along the way, in Toronto (Niza Abreu Rojas, Connie Freitas, the Bathija family, Lori Cain, Christian Catalini, Amélia Paiva, and Suanne Tse), and in Oslo (Irene Levin, Pablo Flouret, Irja Isaksen, Jørgen Kirksæther, Amílcar Moreira, Olga Kerebko, Sílvia Pinheiro, António Afonso, João Eiras, Nelson Menezes, Rigmor Haga, Inês Alegria, Luísa Ribeiro, Margarida Paiva, Alexandra Branquinho, Vera Vitor, Emad AlRozzi, Élena Perez, and the Palinkas family). Big thanks also to those friends, who where already part of my life: Marta Venera, Carla Brás, Joana Almeida, António Belém, Ernesto Festas, Ana Albuquerque, Ana Tomás, Ana Martins, Luísa Ferrão, Andrea Duarte, Nélia Alves, and Nuno Castro. A big thank you also to my family, my mother, my brother (who helped me countless times over the years), my father, my little brother Jorge, Joana Barros, Manuela Moreira, Joey Bacalhau, and to the Caceres family. A special thank you to my partner, Marcos Caceres, for all his care and encouragement, for proofreading my thesis, and for being able to hear patiently about social capital for the last three years. Last, but not the least, I want to thank my respondents, and the students that helped me administering the survey (specially Mónica Vilar, Sara Martins, and João Monteiro de Matos).! vi!
7 Table of contents 1. Introduction 1.1 Internet and social capital Thesis outline 2. Social capital: a conceptual challenge 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Term versus concept Proponents of social capital Pierre Bourdieu: the forms of capital Provisional notes: outlining social capital Distinction: cultural and social capital The forms of capital Habitus, field, and social capital Critiques James S. Coleman: social capital and rational choice theory Norms as social capital Social capital creates human capital Critiques Robert Putnam: social capital and civic engagement Civic-ness & capitale sociale! Civic engagement in America: re-using social capital The decline of social capital and civic engagement After bowling alone Critiques Nan Lin: a theory of social capital Capitals The postulates of a theory of social capital Propositions of a theory of social capital A rational theory of social capital Critiques The great four in perspective ! vii!
8 2.4 The life and death of great social capital? Addressing criticisms. 2.5 Conclusion. 3. Defining and theorizing social capital 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Definition of social capital 3.3 Operationalization of Social Capital Dimensions of social capital Bonding social capital Bridging social capital Linking social capital Civic engagement Resources Trust & reciprocity Dimensions in and dimensions out Theoretical framework Social capital: concept or theory? A multi-theory approach Social capital research in Portugal 3.6 Conclusion. 4. Social Capital and Internet 4.1 Social capital and Internet: Literature Review Social capital and Internet usage are not related Social capital and Internet usage are negatively related Social capital and Internet usage are positively related Bonding and bridging: the individual level The community level 4.2 Research goals, research question, and hypotheses 4.3 Analytical model and the social affordances perspective Research site ! viii!
9 4.4.1 The city of Lisbon: Locale & Demographics Lisbon and Internet usage Social capital and Internet research in Portugal Conclusion. 5. Research Methods & Measures 5.1 Measuring social capital The methodological challenge Measuring social capital and Internet usage Methodological framework: Choices and limitations Research strategy and design Mixed methods approach Empirical model Level of analysis: micro versus macro? Data collection and analysis The survey Sampling and data collection Survey measures Representativity and demographics of the survey sample Data analysis The qualitative interviews Semi-structured interviews Selection of participants and interviewing process Data analysis Ethical conduct. 5.5 Conclusion. 6. Internet usage and the dimensions of social capital 6.1 Internet usage: descriptive results of the survey Descriptive statistics Summary 6.2 Bonding social capital Indicators of bonding social capital Description and analysis Summary ! ix!
10 6.2.2 The bonding social capital variable Bonding social capital and Internet usage Results Discussion. 6.3 Bridging social capital Indicators of Bridging social capital Description and analysis Summary The bridging social capital variable Bridging social capital and Internet usage Results Discussion Resources The resource generator and other measures Description and analysis Summary The resources variable Resources and Internet usage Results Discussion Conclusion. 7. Online Social Capital 7.1 Indicators of online bonding and online bridging The online bonding variable The online bridging variable The online social capital variable Online social capital and Internet usage Results Online bonding social capital Online bridging social capital Online social capital Discussion. 7.6 Conclusion ! x!
11 8. Social capital and Internet usage 8.1 Quantitative findings The social capital variable Social capital and Internet usage Results Discussion Qualitative findings Interaction with close ties Mobilization of social capital Reciprocity Type of Internet usage Internet impact on close ties Internet impact on weak ties Online ties General assessment of the Internet Summary & discussion 8.3 Conclusion: mixing data.. 9. Conclusion 9.1 Social capital, Internet usage, and the Matthew effect 9.2 Conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions Limitations, caveats, and further research.. References Appendices Appendix A: Social capital and Internet usage survey Appendix B: Interview Informed Consent Form Appendix C: Semi-structured interviews interview guide Semi-structured interviews transcripts Appendix D: LCM estimation of civic engagement, associational life, and social trust ! xi!
12 List of Tables 2.1: Social Capital and Tolerance: Four types of Society : Differences associated with the strength of ties : Classification of civic engagement by Park & Perry (2008) : Help & support in the European Union (EU25 + Romania & Bulgaria) : Socio-demographic characteristics of Lisbon vs. Portugal (2001) : Profile of computer and Internet users in Portugal (2010) : Putnam s Social Capital Index : Internet Social Capital Scales (Williams, 2006) : Qualitative, Quantitative, and MM Approaches : Mixed methods approach : Distribution of questionnaires per municipal parish, age group, and gender : Personal characteristics (gender and age) of Lisbon and of the sample : Household characteristics of Lisbon and of the sample : Socioeconomic indicators of Lisbon and of the sample : Profile of Internet users and non-users of the survey sample (%) : Frequencies of bonding items (%) : Spearman s rho with bonding items a: Frequency of contact face-to-face and telephone for close family and friends (%) b: Frequency of contact by mobile and Internet for close family and friends (%) : Spearman s rho correlation for number of close family members & frequency/type of contact : Spearman s rho correlation for number of close friends & frequency/type of contact : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Bonding social capital by model parameters estimates : Profile of bonding social capital : Logit Coefficients of the Logistic regression model of bonding social capital : Frequencies of bridging items (%) : Frequencies of social diversity (%) ! xii!
13 6.13: Frequency of social participation (%) : Spearman s rho with bridging variables : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Model parameters estimates of bridging social capital : Profile of bridging social capital a: Three-class latent model parameters estimates (Part 1) b: Three-class latent model parameters estimates (covariates) (Part 2) : Profile of bridging social capital & covariates : Frequencies of resources (dichotomized) (%) : Spearman s rho correlation coefficients (r) of resources : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Resources by model parameters estimates : Profile of resources : Logit Coefficients of the Logistic regression model of resources : Frequencies of online bonding and online bridging items (%) : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Online bonding by model parameters estimates : Profile of online bonding : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Online bridging by model parameters estimates : Profile of online bridging : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Online social capital by model parameters estimates : Profile of online social capital : Logit Coefficients of the Logistic regression model of online bonding social capital : Logit Coefficients of the Logistic regression model of online social capital : BIC and AIC values for model selection : Social capital by model parameters estimates : Profile of social capital : Logit Coefficients of the Logistic regression model of social capital. 276! xiii!
14 8.5: Odds of having high social capital by age*internet usage (%) : Demographic profile of the interviewees (pseudonyms) : Themes and groups of respondents ! xiv!
15 List of Figures 2.1: Measures of social capital by Lin : Model of the social capital theory by Lin : Direct & indirect reciprocity : Multi-theory framework : Forms of capital : Portugal vs. EU : Analytical model : Civil parishes of the city of Lisbon : Empirical Model : LCM for social capital : Frequency of Internet usage : Main reasons to use the Internet : Reasons to use SNS (%).. 6.4: Impact of Internet on contact with family, friends, and meeting new people (%) : Graphic display of AIC for bonding social capital : Probability of having high bonding social capital (y = 1), by Internet usage and age : Graphic display of AIC & BIC for bridging social capital : Frequency of resources by tie : Resource place to stay by age group (% within age group) : Resource advice on matter of laws/regulations by age group (% within age group) : Resource help with computer and/or Internet by age group (% within age group) : Graphic display of AIC and BIC for resources : Probability of having resources (y = 1) by gender : Probability of having resources (y = 1), by age and gender : Graphic display of BIC & AIC for online bonding : Graphic display of BIC & AIC for online bridging social capital ! xv!
16 7.3: Graphic display of BIC and AIC for online social capital : Frequencies of bonding, bridging, and resources (%) : Mean predicted probabilities of social capital by age and Internet usage : Mean predicted probabilities of social capital by age group and Internet usage ! xvi!
17 1 Introduction To have friends is to have power: for they are strengths united Thomas Hobbes,  1961:150 Leviathan 1.1 Internet and social capital In less than a decade, the Internet has become pervasive and progressively embedded in our daily lives. In 2000, there were 361 million Internet users worldwide, while in 2010 nearly 2 billion people worldwide were using the Internet (Internet World Stats, 2011). The ubiquity that characterizes the Internet can also be used to characterize the concept of social capital, although in a smaller scale. Social capital is a very elastic concept with a plethora of definitions, but the basic idea of social capital is that one s family, friends, and associates constitute an important asset, one that can be called upon in a crisis, enjoyed for its own sake, and/or leveraged for material gain (Woolcock, 2001:20). During the last decades, the number of academic papers focusing on social capital has been steadily on the rise (Field, 2008; Ostrom & Ahn, 2003). According to the Social Sciences Citation Index, in 1990, there was no single article using social capital as a keyword, whereas in 2006, there were 429 articles (Field, 2008:4-5). Similarly, social capital has become an increasingly used concept in the public sphere: During recent years, the concept of social capital has become one of the most popular exports from sociological theory into everyday language (Portes, 1998:2). At least five reasons account for this growth: First, social capital is a concept closely related to other significant sociological concepts, such as social support, solidarity, social cohesion, community, among others. As Bourdieu notes, The notion of social capital imposed itself as the only mean to designate the principle of social effects ( ) (1980:2). The idea of social capital is perceived as simple to explain and apply, giving it broad appeal and application: it consequently speaks to a lot of different people ( ), and gives classical (and contemporary) sociological themes a voice they would not otherwise have (Woolcock, 2001:13).! 1!
18 Second, and as a consequence of the first, it has become a multidisciplinary concept used by a range of different disciplines, from economics (e.g. Becker 1, 1996; Becker & Murphy, 2000; Woolcock, 2001), to political science (e.g. Putnam, 1993, 1995, 2000, Fukuyama, 1995, 1997; Ostrom, 1990, 2000; Ostrom & Ahn, 2003). Its wide application has also caused the concept to be continuously redefined for the purpose of each discipline. Third, organizations, such as the World Bank and OECD, and governments make use of the concept giving the concept a degree of legitimacy amongst policy-makers. For instance, the UK, Australia, and Canada conduct social capital measurements as part of the policy research of their official statistics centers. Social capital involves social and economic perspectives and attracts policy-makers, as it presents less costly, non-economic solutions to social problems (Portes, 1998:3). Fourth, because social capital is based on a holistic approach to human connections and its resources, it can be applied to study the micro, meso, and macro levels of social relationships (Field, 2008). For instance, what is true for individuals also seems to hold for groups: the communities with high levels of social capital are safer, more civically engaged, and less affected by crime (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000; Putnam, 1993, 1995, 2000). Fifth, the concept has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes: with getting jobs or getting better jobs (Lin & Erickson, 2008), better coping strategies and lessening of disabilities (Carter & Maluccio, 2002; Pavey, 2003), well-being, better public health, lower crime rates, more efficient financial markets, social integration (Adler & Kwon, 2002; Putnam, 2000; Halpern, 2005), better management of common resources, and alleviation of poverty (Grootaert & Bastelaer, 2001; Ostrom & Ahn, 2003). Social capital has also been a strong predictor of academic performance, employment, occupational attainment, cohesion, well being, and civic engagement (Portes, 1998; Putnam, 2000; Lin & Erickson, 2008). Those with a higher level of social capital have greater professional, economic, and political opportunities (Cf. Lin & Erickson, 2008). Those with more social capital seem to be better off.! Despite its popularity, social capital is far from being a consensual concept. As such, I define social capital as: the resources that can be derived from our social networks, i.e. resources that are potentially available and can be mobilized from our social connections (drawing on the work of Bourdieu, 1980, 1986; and Lin, 2001).!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 Gary Becker, Nobel of economics, even defined a formula to express the formation of social capital = S i + 1 = X i + (1- d s ) S i, where d s is the depreciation rate on social capital, and X i (= x j ) is the effect of choices by the j members of i s network on his social capital (Becker, 1996:12). 2!!
19 Social capital shares similarities with other types of capital, such as human and cultural capital, namely the nonmonetary aspect (Grootaert & Bastelaer, 2001; Bourdieu, 1986). But besides the specificity of each capital, social capital accumulates with use (Ostrom, 1994), and requires at least the interaction of two people (Grootaert & Bastelaer, 2001). There is also a connection between social capital and other types of resources those with higher economic and human capital, seem to have higher social capital (Lin, 2001). Social capital adds value, or complements other types of capital (Bourdieu, 1986).! Because social capital can shine some light on how social elements explain human behavior, from status attainment to well being, social capital can be an important concept in the debate around the Internet s effects on society: How is the Internet affecting social capital? Is the Internet reinforcing and complementing social capital? Or is it dividing and isolating people, and diminishing their social capital? Fears of social isolation and alienation have been constantly associated with new technology. In the words of Steven Pinker (2010), New forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers brainpower and moral fiber. So too with electronic technologies. PowerPoint, we re told, is reducing discourse to bullet points. Search engines lower our intelligence, encouraging us to skim on the surface of knowledge rather than dive to its depths. Twitter is shrinking our attention spans. But such panics often fail basic reality checks. In fact, despite the growing research that supports the positive relationship between Internet usage and social interaction, sociability, and even social capital (Hampton et al., 2011; Robinson & Martin, 2008; 2010; Williams, 2007, Boase et al., 2006; Kuovo & Räsänen, 2005; Katz & Rice, 2002; Quan-Haase & Wellman, 2004), the dystopian view of the Internet seems to be more prominent in the public discourse. This view keeps feeding a certain moral panic about the Internet and its effects (Cf. Wang & Wellman, 2010). Of course the Internet is not exclusively a force for good. But we need to overcome the Manichean utopian/dystopian view of technology, acknowledge the research in the field, and recognize the positive and negative elements of any socio-technical system. Similarly, social capital can also be negative: it can promote segregation, oppression, inequality, illegitimacy, nepotism, in-group mentality, social exclusion, discrimination, conflict, and crime (Portes, 1998; Levi, 1996; Ostrom & Ahn, 2001; Putnam, 2000; Streeten, 2002). Gangs and patronage networks are some examples of this negative social capital for society (Streeten, 2002).! 3!
20 The majority of authors focus on the positive and not on the negative externalities of social capital since it is mainly perceived as a positive capital for the individual or the group being analyzed. I follow this line, considering the positive outcomes of social capital for the individuals I am studying, while commenting on some of the less-positive aspects of social capital. This study explores social capital and Internet usage, aiming to analyze if there is any association between them. This analysis follows a mixed methods strategy, which combines quantitative and qualitative methods. I designed a two-phase sequential mixed methods study: In the first phase, I draw on quantitative research to examine the relationship between Internet usage and social capital. I do this through a surveyed stratified random sample of 417 participants, above 17 years of age, living in Lisbon, Portugal. In the second phase, I draw on qualitative research to explore in-depth the relationship between Internet usage and social capital, namely through semistructured interviews with 14 participants of the survey sample. It must be noted that the field of social capital research has been dominated by quantitative analysis of survey data. As a consequence, I believe that contexts, meanings, and motivations to create and sustain social capital have not been adequately explored in the literature. Therefore, I rely on qualitative research to explore these contexts, meanings, and motivations. 1.2 Thesis outline! This thesis is composed of four parts, but not explicitly marked as such. The first part (chapters 2 and 3) explores the concept of social capital in the literature, and informs the definition and operationalization of social capital, as well as the theoretical framework of my research. The second part (chapter 4) focuses on the literature review of Internet usage and social capital, which informs the analytical model of my research. The third part (chapter 5) comprises the research strategy, methods, and measures, which informs my empirical model. The fourth part (chapter 6, 7, and 8) presents and discusses the results of the study that I conducted in Lisbon. In Chapter 2, I first look at the history of social capital as a term and as a concept, and I then critically explore the work of its main contemporary proponents: Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman, Robert Putnam, and Nan Lin. Despite the importance of the social capital concept in the sociological research, the large uptake of the concept and its broad nature has created conceptual ambiguities. These ambiguities but also 4!!
21 similarities are explored in this chapter, since identifying different elements helps to give a perspective to the study of social capital, while identifying common elements helps to clarify the meaning of social capital. As Ostrom & Ahn (2003:2) elucidate, After a decade of unprecedented growth, the social capital approach has now reached a point where serious theoretical reflections are imperative to maintain the concept's integrity when applied to empirical research. A way of reflecting on the fundamentals of the social capital concept is to go back to the foundational ideas. The ambiguity of the concept requires such an effort. This chapter ends with a section addressing the main criticisms against the concept of social capital. In Chapter 3, I draw on the previous chapter to define and operationalize social capital. Social capital is a multidimensional concept, measured through its different dimensions. In this chapter, I review the main dimensions of social capital in the literature, namely bonding social capital, bridging social capital, resources, civic engagement, linking social capital, and social trust and reciprocity. To be consistent with my definition of social capital, I explain why I only select three of these dimensions (bonding, bridging, and resources) for my study. Moreover, research in the field has been showing that there is no strong evidence or strong theoretical framework to support the inclusion of reciprocity, civic engagement, social trust, or norms in the concept of social capital (Cf. Lin & Erickson, 2008). In this third chapter, I also explore the theory or theories of social capital, laying down a broad theoretical framework for my research. My multi-theory approach to social capital combines elements from constructivist structuralism, neo-capital theory, theory of social capital, bounded rationality, and second-generation collective-action theories. While I am not specifically testing this general multi-theoretical model, this is how I approach social capital in my research. The rationale for this multi-theory approach is presented and discussed herein. This chapter ends with a section that describes the social capital research in Portugal. In Chapter 4, I review the research on social capital and Internet usage. As there is no unified definition of social capital, a significant number of these studies rely on different approaches, which means that some studies include social trust and civic engagement, while others are based on other concepts such as sociability. While I review these studies, I primarily focus on studies that directly (or indirectly, in some cases) consider social capital as resources available in social networks or that study bonding or bridging social capital. The studies on social capital and Internet usage can be divided into three approaches: 1. The ones that point to a positive relationship between the two, 2. the ones that point to a negative relationship,! 5!