عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسندگان [English]چکیده [English]
Introduction and problematic of research: the increasing development of internet, satellite TV, and digital communicative technologies, in early decades of the 21st century, has provided the possibility of instant communication in various parts of the world (Held & Mc-Grew, 2003: 37). It is now accompanied by formation of virtual space that offers various functions which in turn, contribute to rewriting traditional values, concepts, and beliefs (Boudrillard, 2004: 16). Internet and other communication and information technologies have spread in the world (Friedman, 2008), and paved the way for opinion expression (Suler, 2007). This has become a ground on which most of the users consist of the youth (Bullen & Hare, 2000). Based on Iran's National Bureau Report (2010), the age distribution of about 43.2 percent of internet users in Iran, ranged between 20 and 29 years and 59.8 percent of them received higher education. Many researchers have focused on the effects of media on social capital or one of its dimensions. For example, one can refer to studies of Moy (2000), Quan-Haase, and Wellman (2002), Wellman, et al., (2001), Javaheri and Balakhani (2006), Javaheri and Bagheri (2007), Hosseinpour and Motamed-Nezhad (2011), Heydari & Dehghani (2015), Beaudoin (2007). Theoretically, it should also be noted that Putnam (1995, 1996), Coleman (1991, 1994), Lin (1991) and Lin & Ronalds (2001) have paid attention to this issue. This paper rather aims at studying the relationship between social networks usage and social capital of the users with a special emphasis on the case of students at Yasouj University in Iran.
Theoretical framework: we first launched a review of relevant theories from which we then developed a synthesis of theories such as that of Putnam (1998), and Coleman (1994) that addressed lowering effect of media on social capital and the McQuail’s theory (1994, 2005) on the effects of media use on the social solidarity. This synthesis formed the theoretical framework of our study from which we extracted some research hypotheses. From Putnam's and Coleman’s theories, some hypotheses about the significant relationship between social capital, on one hand, and membership situation and the rate of activity in social networks, on the other, were drawn. In addition and based on McQuail’s theory, a hypothesis was drawn about the significant difference of social capital regarding the type of usage of social networks.
Methodology: Using a survey method, we determined the unit of analysis to be statistical society of students at Yasouj University. The time of survey spanned between 2014 and 2015, from which and based on Lin sampling table (1976), about 400 cases were selected to form the sample size. Then and based on multi-stage random sampling method, samples were selected. To collect data, a structured and semi-structured questionnaire was designed based on Nahapiet's and Ghosal's Scale (1998). After the data were collected, we used SPSS to analyze the data in both descriptive and inferential mode of analysis. Dimensions of social capital were considered to include communicational dimension, structural dimension, and cognitive dimension. Reliability of these dimensions was analyzed separately via Cronbach's Alpha test. The test results for each of these dimensions of social capital consisted of: 0.90 for relational dimension, 0.876 for structural dimension, and 0.865 for cognitive dimension. The test results show that the designed questionnaire for measuring social capital, the main independent variable, and its dimensions all have enough and proper reliability.
Findings and discussion: Some of the findings indicated that there is significant and direct relationship between membership history in web-based social networks and the fluctuation of social capital while there is no significant relationship between the degree of social networks use and social capital. Also, the results indicated that there is no significant difference in social capital of the students, taking their membership situation and usage pattern of social networks into consideration. It should be noted that Iranian society is a society that is experiencing rapid changes in various aspects of life. Yasouj University, as a local university with local students, is also experiencing such changes but a community level. It reflects a community that is passing through traditional ties and changing it into modern communicative relations. In such a situation, expanding the usage of web-based social networks alongside of mass and unrefined materials has created some type of mistrust and uncertainty vis-à-vis the existing social relations. Furthermore, such mass consumption of media contents tends to diminish the role of conscious agent and users. It seems plausible to conclude that such situation, while offers collective and inclusive proactivity, fails to provide a useful ground for an increase in social capital and solidarity of the users.