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Decline in the size and diversity of American's core networks has been tied to the displacement of face-to-face interaction and to lower societal well-being. Comparing core networks in the United States, Norway, and Ukraine, we reject the conclusions that frequent in-person contact predicts individual well-being and that large/diverse networks predict broader societal well-being. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) and societies with lower levels of overall prosperity have higher rates of in-person contact. Internet use is associated with higher in-person contact for the socioeconomically advantaged but lower rates of in-person contact for the disadvantaged. In-person and ICT-based contact is generally associated with maintaining a larger network, but in societies of lower well-being frequent interaction impedes the ability to maintain a large network. In contrast to the positive relationship between individual SES and network size, societal prosperity has a negative relationship to network size. Findings are discussed in relation to social support, democratic engagement, and the digital divide.
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Keywords: civic society; computer-mediated communication; media multiplexity; media richness; social isolation; social media; social presence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Rutgers, School of Communication and Information, 4 Huntington StreetNew Brunswick,NJ,08901, USA 2: [email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:"> IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Langgaards Vej 7Copenhagen,DK-2300, Denmark< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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