Societies2014, 4(4), 785-809; doi:10.3390/soc4040785 - published 18 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Theoretical approaches as well as empirical results in the area of social capital accumulation on social networking sites suggest that weak ties/bridging versus strong ties/bonding social capital should be distinguished and that while bonding social capital is connected to emotional support, bridging social capital entails the provision of information. Additionally, recent studies imply the notion that weak ties/bridging social capital are gaining increasing importance in today’s social media environments. By means of a survey (N = 317) we challenged these presuppositions by assessing the social support functions that are ascribed to three different types of contacts from participants’ network (weak, medium, or strong tie). In contrast to theoretical assumptions, we do not find that weak ties are experienced to supply informational support whereas strong ties first and foremost provide emotional support. Instead we find that within social networking sites, strong ties are perceived to provide both emotional and informational support and weak ties are perceived as less important than recent literature assumes.
Societies2014, 4(4), 770-784; doi:10.3390/soc4040770 - published 15 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In order to build and maintain social capital in their Online Social Networks, users need to disclose personal information, a behavior that at the same time leads to a lower level of privacy. In this conceptual paper, we offer a new theoretical perspective on the question of why people might regulate their privacy boundaries inadequately when communicating in Online Social Networks. We argue that people have developed a subjective theory about online privacy putting them into a processing mode of default trust. In this trusting mode people would (a) discount the risk of a self-disclosure directly; and (b) infer the risk from invalid cues which would then reinforce their trusting mode. As a consequence people might be more willing to self-disclose information than their actual privacy preferences would otherwise indicate. We exemplify the biasing potential of a trusting mode for memory and metacognitive accuracy and discuss the role of a default trust mode for the development of social capital.
Societies2014, 4(4), 753-769; doi:10.3390/soc4040753 - published 11 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: While an ever-growing body of research is concerned with user behavior on individual social network sites (SNSs)—mostly Facebook—studies addressing an alternating use of two or more SNS are rare. Here, we investigate the relationship between alternating SNS use and social capital in the context of migration. Alternating SNS use avoids some of the problems associated with large networks located on one site; in particular the management of different social or cultural spheres. Not only does this strategy hold potential for increased social capital, it also provides a particular incentive for migrants faced with the challenge of staying in touch with back home and managing a new social environment. Two survey studies are presented that focus on the relationship between alternating SNS use and online ties in a migrant context involving Indian nationals. Study 1 looked at migration within India, whereas Study 2 compared international with domestic SNS users. In both studies, alternating SNS use added to the prediction of online network size and accounted for differences in network size found for migrant and non-migrant users. Differences were due to the number of peripheral ties, rather than core ties. Findings suggest that alternating SNS use may constitute a compensatory strategy that helps to overcome lower levels of socializing represented through a single SNS.
Societies2014, 4(4), 737-752; doi:10.3390/soc4040737 - published 10 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Notions of hospitality, community, and the fostering of rapport and connection are foundational concerns for conducting research across difference. Drawing on methodological literature, this paper considers how access to various communities and “good” data is structured by the notion that in order to develop rapport researchers accept the “food”, specifically “meat” offered by their hosts. When researchers are vegetarians or vegans, this can entail a conflict in which questions of hospitality, relationships, and responsibility to ethical commitments come to the fore. As such, we analyze methodological literature in which the logic of nonhuman animal sacrifice is considered a means to the ends of research through the development of “rapport”—often coded as an ethical relationship of respect to the participant. We draw on experiences of veg*n researchers to explore how this assumption functions to position the consumption of meat as a necessary undertaking when conducting research, and in turn, denies nonhuman animal subjecthood. We interrogate the assumption that culture and communities are static inasmuch as this literature suggests ways to enter and exit spaces leaving minimal impact, and that posits participants will not trust researchers nor understand their decisions against eating nonhuman animals. We argue that because food consumption is figured as a private and individual choice, animals are not considered subjects in research. Thus, we articulate a means to consider vegan and/or vegetarians politics, not as a marker of difference, but as an attempt to engage in ethical relationships with nonhuman animals. In so doing, we call for the inclusion of nonhuman animals in relationships of hospitality, and thereby attempt to politicize the practice of food consumption while conducting research.
Societies2014, 4(4), 712-736; doi:10.3390/soc4040712 - published 10 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The dynamic relationships between “martial arts”, society and health remain unclear, particularly due to research that typically views health in a purely biomedical and compartmentalized way. Martial arts and combat sports (MACS) offer a diversity of disciplines with their own intended training outcomes and techne. The traditionalist Chinese martial arts (TCMAs), such as Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) and Wing Chun Kung Fu, stress health promotion/preservation, personal development and lifelong practice. Adopting a structurationist framework, this article explores the connections between three distinct philosophies of health and TCMAs, institutions spreading such discourse, and the personal narratives of transformation and self-cultivation through these embodied art forms. Taking a perspective starting from the practitioners themselves, I explore the interplay between discourse and narrative as applied in everyday British society. Following detailed qualitative analysis, “Western scientific”, “contemporary Daoist” and “New Age” health philosophies are identified as explored via three detailed, reflexive cases of long-term practitioner-instructors, their schools and documents that connect them to international exponents across time. This article thus contributes to sociological knowledge on MACS and health, while considering the connections between health philosophies, discourse and narrative.
Societies2014, 4(4), 706-711; doi:10.3390/soc4040706 - published 8 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This editorial presents an overview of digital health technologies, discusses previous research and introduces the contributions to the special issue “Beyond Techno-Utopia: Critical Approaches to Digital Health Technologies”. It is argued that thus far, few critical analyses of digital health technologies have been published in the social science literature, particularly in relation to the newest technologies. While the articles collected here in this special issue have gone some way in offering a critical response to digital health technologies, they represent only a beginning. Many more compelling topics remain to be investigated. The editorial ends with outlining directions for future research in this area.