عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسندگان [English]چکیده [English]
Introduction: Internet has been increasingly spreading around the world since the 1990s and the following question has been raised among researchers especially in the field of social sciences: How exactly internet affect social relations, networks and social interactions? In response to such question, two conflicting views have emerged. The first view that is based on “time-displacement” hypothesis argues that as the internet enables more access to contacts outside one’s immediate social world, there are concerns that the internet may decrease people’s investment in strong, local, and communal relationships. The internet secludes individuals from their social environments and may lead them to isolation and cause diminishing social capital. On the other hand “reinforcement” hypothesis argues that internet have changed the interactions pattern. Internet use and online communication help intensify the existing strong ties (Chen, 2013). “In sum, the researches indicates that social media is a complementary communication way that is used with existing social ties. People tend to communicate online with their existing ties. Regardless of two conflict views that have been exposed, this paper explores the relationship between internet as a social media and the quality and also quantity of social ties. The main goal of this study is to examine and understand the relationship between internet usage and weak ties, strong ties and core discussion network among students in Shiraz University. In fact the key questions of current study are: Does the internet increase the size of social network or decrease it? And how does internet relate to weak ties and strong ties?
Framework: Researchers have paid increasingly attention to the core discussion network, the set of people an individual regularly turn to when he or she has important matters to discuss. The core discussion network is theorized to be a major source of support over the span of a person’s life, and it represents one of the most important ways that social networks are said to benefit everyday well-being. Core discussion network includes variety of relationships. Putnam’s definition of social network refers to connection among individuals - social networks which is shaped interaction’s norms and trustworthy. He examines two dimensions of social ties which is “Bonding” and “Bridging”. “Bonding social capital is good for undergirding specific reciprocity and mobilizes solidarity. Bridging network, are better for linkage to external assets and for information diffusion” (Putnam, 2000). Granovetter have investigated the mechanism of social interactions and have expressed the “Weak ties” theory. According to his idea “the strength of a tie is a combination of the amount of time that an individual spends for, and the emotional intensity, the intimacy and mutual confiding, and the reciprocal services which characterized the tie. So, weak ties include the people at the lowest level of interaction. The main function of weak ties is to providing information, communication and new job opportunities for individuals” (Granovetter, 1973). With a focus on new communication technologies such as the internet in social communications, we expect to observe both weak and strong ties in the online communications. Given the significance of weak ties in social networks, it’s important to examine role of weak ties and strong ties in the core discussion network and also find out how these ties does relates to internet usage.
Online communication and general internet usage is positively related to weak ties.
Online communication and general internet usage is positively related to strong ties.
Online communication and general internet usage is positively related to core discussion network.
Online communication and general internet usage is positively related to range of core discussion network.
Online communication and general internet usage is positively related to number of friend’s list in social network size.
Methods: This survey was conducted using multi-stages random sampling (n=404). In this research we divided two dimensions of using internet which is online communication and general internet usage. In current research dependent variables are core discussion network, range of core discussion network and size of social ties which include weak and strong ties. The important independent variables are online communication and general internet usage.
Result and Conclusion: The results indicate that 29 percent of respondents have at least 1-3 individuals' weak ties in their core discussion network. While 61.1 percent of respondents have at least 1-3 individuals in their core discussion network, 15.1 percent of respondents have no strong tie in their core discussion network, which means strong ties are more common at the student’s core discussion network. Mean of general internet usage is 11.36 and mean of online communication is 5.63. Besides, 8.9 percent of students had no online communication. The results also examine that gender as a variable is correlated to type of social ties. Women tend to have more strong ties in their core discussion network in comparison to men. On the other hand men have more expanded core discussion network than women and they also have more weak ties in their core discussion network. Education is another variable that made changes in type of social ties. As a result, examines the more educated respondents, the more strong ties they would have in their core discussion network. The graduate students also have greater core discussion network than undergraduate students. The other results indicate that the number of weak ties is positively related to general internet usage. The number of strong ties is positively related to online communication but there is no significant relationship with general internet usage. Also, there is no significant relationship between range of core discussion network and online communication and general internet usage. There is also no significant relationship between core discussion network and online communication and general internet usage. Also, there is a significant high correlation between strong ties and core discussion network.
Discussion and conclusion: Overall and based on data analysis we can argue that internet and social media are complementary communication way that can reinforce existing ties and relations. So we can disagree with the displacement theory which believed that internet led individuals to isolation and loneliness. The fact that how people use media can help us to explore pattern of their social ties. General internet usage and online communication do not harm sociability and also frequent use of online communication is associated with more extensive strong ties. In general, it seems that the internet does not affect the structure of the core discussion network and individuals do not choose members of their core discussion network via the internet. In other word, internet is more a means to keep in touch with pre-existing social ties in the youth's core discussion network.