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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces a social capitalization framework to promote an investment-oriented understanding of social capital in digital environments. While studies of Internet social capital have enriched the understanding of the outcomes of digital sociability, less discussion has been devoted to social networking as a social investment process underlying social capital production. The framework highlights the purposive nature of social networking and views Internet social capital as a product of the interplay among agency, social structure, and platform affordances. The chapter argues that online actors’ social investment decisions are based on three dimensions of cost–benefit assessments: cost of uncertainty, cost of persistence, and cost of mutuality. Based on the three cost dimensions, a social investment taxonomy is presented in conjunction with a few networking principles widely learned from offline network literature. The empirical utility of the social capitalization framework and future research areas are then discussed.

Keywords: social capital, social capitalization, purposive action, homophily, prestige effect, social investment, online social networking, ISCS, Internet social capital scales

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