The decline thesis proponents in the social capital literature have largely ignored the fastest growing venue for new social capital formation – the Internet. We argue that the Internet is making a larger impact than the current research acknowledges. Using survey data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project combined with a survey of college students, we confirm a strong positive relationship between online social networking and political participation. Further, we present evidence that, at least in 2008 election, there was a bias toward voting for Democrats among those who utilized online social networking services including Facebook and Twitter. The implications of these results are discussed.
Original Publication Information
This paper was published in Commonwealth Review of Political Science, volume 1, issue 1, in 2013. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Political Science Association. This is a revised version of that manuscript which was published in the book, Rebooting American Politics: The Internet Revolution (Rowman & Littlefield).
Gainous, Jason and Wagner, Kevin M., "Bowling online : the Internet and the new social capital." (2013). Faculty Scholarship. Paper 33.