Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Bridging Social Capital on Facebook as a Platform: A Case Study of Malaysian College Students

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Bridging Social Capital on Facebook as a Platform: A Case Study of Malaysian College Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

Bridging social capital is a significant predictor in national solidarity. Although Malaysia is known as a fairly successful multi-ethnic country, it still divides along ethnic and religious lines. The underlying question is whether Social networking sites like Facebook, carry out contributory agent reinforcing bridging social capital among different ethnics. The current research will be functional in filling up these gaps by defining the role of Facebook in individuals' bridging social capital among Malaysian college students. An online questionnaire survey used in this study aimed to evaluate the association between the intensity of using Facebook, bridging social capital and different ethnics and age groups. In conclusion, the amount of use of Facebook is an insignificant factor affecting online bridging social capital among Malaysian undergraduates.

Keywords: Facebook, social capital, online bridging, college students

1. Introduction

Much of the debate over social capital and online social networking sites is concerning the function of social networking sites in shaping social capital. Many of previous studies have attempted to uncover the role of the amount of media use in maintaining social relationships in communities, while some of which focused on the negative effects of media on social capital. They mostly argued that media use decreased sociability and face-to-face communications and loosened social networks (Putnam, 2000; Nie & Erbring, 2000). Putnam, in his famous book Bowling Alone (2000), pointed out that social capital had decreased in America in the post-war years mainly because of the development of technology and media. He argued that younger generations are less connected to and also less engaged in social activities than the past, particularly since the media has turned into a major part of their leisure activities (Putnam, 2000).

The popularity of social media is rapidly growing among Malaysian youth. Today, the use of digital media, online social networking, mobile media, video and photo uploading, and many other interactive activities are getting more and more common and accessible. It is thought that online communities improve relations between individuals and strengthen social networks (Wellman et al., 1996; Wellman et al., 2001). The emergence social networking sites (SNSs) flourished the theory that online community yielding social outcomes, bonding existing ties and bridging acquaintances (Burke, Marlow, & Lento, 2010; Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Steinfield, DiMicco, & Ellison, 2009; Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009). The growing evidence from previous studies indicated that online communities provide more benefit bridging acquaintances than bonding close ties. Many advantages derived from bridging social capital within social networks determined by weak ties, such as cultural exposure and felling part of bigger community (Putnam, 1995; Woolcock & Narayan , 2000; Donath & Boyd, 2004).

Increasing bridging capital, trust and sense of community is boosted parallelly; particularly it is significant in communities having diversity such as Malaysia which dealing with racial, ethnic and religious issues. Studies suggest that communities with ethnic and racial diversity often come up with a lower level of social capital than homogeneous communities (Zak & Knack, 2001). Although, Malaysia is known as a fairly successful multi-ethnic country that can still be used as a model for a country that has effectively managed its ethnic relations, there is no doubt that Malaysians are still divided along ethnic and religious lines. However incidences of outward hostility between the different ethnic groups have been on the decline (Farouk & Mohammad Zaini, 2007

However, the concept of social capital has been arisen from western literature and majority of studies has been conducted in western context in which the ethnical gaps do not figure prominently in the social structure (Farouk & Mohammad Zaini, 2007). …

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