Internet Use and the Building of Social Capital for Development: A Network Perspective

Rong Wang

Abstract


Guided by the Capability Approach, this study highlights the importance of assessing development in terms of people’s engagement in activities they want to do. It moves beyond the emphasis on economic growth and access to new technologies. Situated in the context of Internet use, this study examines how civil society associations and existing bonding and bridging social ties are related to an individual’s capability to use the Internet for information seeking, economic transactions, political participation, learning, and entertainment. Drawing from the network perspective of social capital, this study proves the importance of social networks in affecting an individual’s capability of using the Internet for specific purposes. The article contributes to the growing literature on the links between ICTs and development. It also highlights the social factors of technology use, providing implications on how to promote Internet use in developing communities.

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