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Contextual social capital: linking the contexts of social media use to its outcomes

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The established link between social media use and social capital reflects the understanding that these media are useful for establishing and maintaining relationships. Yet, social media are frequently used for other purposes, such as entertainment, information seeking, and companionship. Using a uses and gratifications approach, this study explores how contexts of social media use intersect with social capital. From data gathered in an online survey of approximately 350 social media users, multiple multivariate regression analysis was used to analyze the contributions that individual contexts of social media use make on bridging, bonding, and maintained social capital. This analysis demonstrates that while everyday instrumental communication is a primary contributor to the accrual of all forms of social capital, the use of social media use to express care and concern for others and for entertainment is also important to social capital outcomes. These findings underscore the importance of considering context to understand the effects of social media use.
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Keywords: Social media; social capital; uses and gratifications

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: May 3, 2016

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