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LINKED OR DIVIDED BY THE WEB?: Internet use and sociability in four European countries

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It is often assumed that the increased use of the new information and communication technology (ICT) can displace traditional face-to-face sociability. At the same time, it has been argued that the new ICT can also strengthen traditional forms of sociability. This article evaluates these opposite views by examining how the frequency of Internet use is connected with two forms of sociability: civic engagement and interpersonal involvement. Empirical interest is narrowed down to four European countries. The data utilized are the Finnish, British, French and Italian sections of the European Social Survey 2002-2003 (N = 6,762). The methods of analysis include cross-tabulations and logistic regression models. The findings indicate that frequent Internet use is positively associated with both forms of sociability in all countries. However, there are also cross-country differences in the strength of these associations and in the effects of sociodemographic control variables. The findings thus suggest that the contemporary development of the information society has different implications for different types of societies.
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Keywords: Internet; civic engagement; comparative research; interpersonal involvement; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of Turku, Finland

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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