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Title: Connective politics : an analysis of the role of the Internet on social capital and its outcomes
Author: Sajuria Garces, J. E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 9484
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis aims to examine the notion that the Internet is affecting the way in which we behave socially and politically. In particular, it focuses on the analysis of social capital and its potential outcomes on voting behaviour. There are three main empirical outcomes of this thesis. First, it provides an structural analysis of online networks from three different cases, and compares the network structures of these cases with different theoretical expectations about social network behaviour. The results show that online structures follow a similar pattern that we could expect offline, emphasising the role of formal organisations in fostering bridging social capital. Second, the thesis introduces a new instrument for measuring social capital, the Online Resource Generator. This module was fielded in the third wave of the British Election Study 2015 and contains a thorough measure of access to social capital in a general way and both online and offline. The instrument responses are used to calculate individual level positions on latent dimension representing different forms of social capital. These latent variables are estimated using Bayesian Item Response Theory, and aim to provide a valid measure of individual levels of social capital. Third, the thesis examines the relationship between different forms of social capital and voting turnout. In particular, it focuses on the analysis of the European Parliament Election in 2014 and the UK General Election in 2015, using a multilevel approach for the latter. The main results show that online social capital is negatively associated with a higher likelihood of voting, while the combination of online and offline social capital has a positive association. In summary, this thesis provides compelling evidence against the dystopian claims about the internet, and shows how a balanced use of technology can improve people's individual levels of social capital.
Supervisor: Hudson, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available