Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
C 7: Social Theory in Social Networks
Friday, 20/Mar/2015:
9:00 - 10:00

Session Chair: Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Location: Room 149
Fachhochschule Köln/ Cologne University of Applied Sciences
Claudiusstr. 1, 50678 Cologne


Minority Status and the strength of Facebook Ties: A test of Social Diversification perspective in the US

Gustavo S. Mesch

University of Haifa, Israel

Relevance & Research Question: Multicultural societies are characterized by social groups that hold different positions in the stratification system (natives, immigrants and disadvantaged minorities). This study investigated the role of race and ethnicity in the U.S. on self- reported composition of social ties of young adolescents on Facebook and tested the social diversification perspective that argues that in multicultural societies race and ethnicity are central social status that shape the nature of associations.

Methods & Data: A secondary analysis of the 2012 U.S. Pew Teens and Privacy survey was conducted (n=625). Respondents were presented with a list of potential contacts and were asked to indicate if these individuals are in their Facebook network. From the responses two mutually exclusive variables were created. Strong ties is a composite variable that was created from positive responses to the request to indicate if parents, siblings, extended family or friends at school are members of the youth Facebook network. Weak ties is a composite variable that was created from positive responses to the request to indicate if friends that are not at school, teachers or coaches, celebrities, musicians or athletes and other people you have never met in person are in the personal Facebook network. O.L.S. regression was used to investigate the effect of socio-demographic and Internet use variables on the strength of ties.

Results: The average number of strong and weak ties reported differs according to race/ethnicity. White adolescents report on average more strong ties , than African Americans while African-Americans report on average more weak ties than white Americans.

Added Value: We found support for the diversification hypothesis, which maintains that disadvantaged groups take more advantage of the Internet as a means of overcoming social inequalities in society to increase their social capital. The results provide strong support for the diversification hypothesis, suggesting that members of disadvantaged groups connect to weak ties rather than strong ties to increase access to non-redundant information.

Mesch-Minority Status and the strength of Facebook Ties-109.pptx

Self-disclosure on Facebook: Social capital and the match between appropriate media channel and type of disclosed information

Uwe Matzat1, Ruoyun Lin2

1Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands; 2University of Tübingen, Germany


Self-disclosure (SDC) on Facebook is helpful for gaining social capital. The link between amount of SDC and social capital has been studied intensively. However, it is unclear what role different types of SDC in specific communication channels play for accessing social capital. We challenge the idea all types of SDC in all channels are equally helpful for social capital development. Rather, we test the claim that a “match” between the type of information (intimate vs. other information) and type of channel (private vs. public) facilitates access to (bonding) social capital. Our study rests on the idea that users regard self-disclosure of intimate information in public media often as inappropriate (Bazarova, 2012).


We use two experiments combined with survey measurements on users’ social capital (Ellison et al., 2011) of 380 Facebook users to test several hypotheses. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three Facebook channels (Chat/Group/Status Updates), and their patterns of disclosing intimate and non-intimate information in that specific channel were measured. The three Facebook channels were assigned between-subjects and the two categories of SDC (intimate vs. non-intimate) were assigned within-subjects. In experiment 2, the perception of the appropriateness of self-disclosure is analyzed. Here, we utilize a 2×2 factorial design, with disclosure channel (Chat vs. Updates) as within-subjects factors, and disclosure intimacy (high vs. low intimacy) as between-subjects factors. Similar to Bazarova (2012), Facebook pages with fictitious self-disclosure messages were created and their perceived appropriateness was measured.


For their own disclosure of intimate information on Facebook, users prefer private over public channels. Furthermore, users regarding public disclosure of intimate information as appropriate are more likely to disclose intimate information in public. Most important, while “matched disclosure” (disclosure of intimate information in private media) is associated with more bonding social capital, disclosing intimate information in public media is not.

Added Value:

The findings point to an important rule of self-disclosure that governs privacy management and characterizes media affordances. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to show that users who disregard these affordances face barriers in accessing bonding social capital on Facebook.

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