Dichotomy of offline versus online social capital

SSRN research paper series 4311832
11 pages.
Posted: 4 January 2023 (2023), unpublished
Open Access


Online social networks could be means of allowing their users to stay connected. Our goal was to investigate the provision or receipt of social support through these online social network platforms. The literature reported a lack of the measurement of social capital which is further exacerbated in the case of online social networks. We proposed a methodological improvement for the measurement of social capital in form of a web application. We extended well-established theoretical models of social capital and measurement tools such as name, position and resource generators to online social networks. We obtained informed consent from users of online social networks to combine the platform's API data with responses to a social survey. Our results indicated that a higher number of friends on a social network does not necessarily mean higher received support. Users' preference for their online connections was towards higher status alters. Once the number of supporting alters and their status was controlled, family members, friends, and completely offline connections were still providing the most support. We revisit the dichotomy of online versus offline social capital and provide insights based on our social survey results for future research.

Keywords: France, Iran, World, computational social science, social capital, social network
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.