E-Participation: Social Capital and the Internet

58 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2014

See all articles by Fabio Sabatini

Fabio Sabatini

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law; Euricse

Francesco Sarracino


Date Written: October 3, 2014


Studies in the social capital literature have documented two stylised facts: first, a decline in measures of social participation has occurred in many OECD countries. Second, and more recently, the success of social networking sites (SNSs) has resulted in a steep rise in online social participation. Our study adds to this body of research by conducting the first empirical assessment of how online networking affects two economically relevant aspects of social capital, i.e. trust and sociability. We address endogeneity in online networking by exploiting technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures that exogenously determined the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet. We find that participation in SNSs such as Facebook and Twitter has a positive effect on face-to-face interactions. However, social trust decreases with online interactions. We argue that the rising practice of hate speech may play a crucial role in the destruction of trust.

Keywords: Social Participation, Online Networks, Facebook, Social Trust, Social Capital, Broadband, Digital Divide, Hate Speech

JEL Classification: C36, D85, O33, Z1

Suggested Citation

Sabatini, Fabio and Sarracino, Francesco, E-Participation: Social Capital and the Internet (October 3, 2014). FEEM Working Paper No. 081.2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2505048 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2505048

Fabio Sabatini (Contact Author)

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185

Euricse ( email )

Via S. Giovanni 36
38122 Trento (TN)

Francesco Sarracino

STATEC ( email )

BP 304
Luxembourg City, L-2013

HSE-LCSR ( email )

47a, prospect Rimskogo-Korsakova
Saint-Petersburg, 190068

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