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Content creation on the Internet: a social cognitive perspective on the participation divide

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Sociodemographic variables are held to impact Internet users’ willingness and ability to productively use online media. This effect can create a ‘participation divide’ between distinct user groups. Recently, studies have enhanced our understanding of the participation divide by differentiating types of online content creation. They found that sociodemographics may only affect specific forms of online participation. We suggest that social cognitive theory (SCT) helps explain why and how sociodemographic variables influence different forms of online participation. Based on SCT, we analyze the mediating effect of two cognitive constructs, self-efficacy and privacy concerns, on different types of online content creation. We conduct a survey among German Internet users and apply structural equation modeling to compare three distinct theoretical models. We find that considering the mediating effects of cognitive constructs, based on SCT, improves our understanding of which sociodemographic variables affect which type of online content creation – and why.
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Keywords: content creation; digital divide; online participation; participation divide; social cognitive theory; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Media and Communications Management, University of St. Gallen, Blumenbergplatz 9, 9000, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Publication date: June 3, 2015

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