83 – See you on Facebook! A framework for analyzing the role of computermediated interaction in the evolution of social capital

Empirical studies have documented a decline in indicators of social participation in the last decades.

The responsibility of social disengagement has been often attributed to pervasive busyness and the rising pressure of time.

In this paper we argue that computer-mediated interaction, and particularly online networking, can help mitigate this downward trend.

We develop a logical framework for assessing the role of the internet in the evolution of social participation. We analyze an economy where agents can develop their social interactions through two main modes of participation, one encompassing both online networking and face to face interactions, and another solely based on physical encounters. We study the interdependence between the rise in the pressure of time and the variation in the relative performance of the two strategies of participation.

Keywords: internet, computer-mediated communication, online networking, Facebook, social networks, social capital.

JEL Codes: O33, Z13