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Societies, Volume 4, Issue 4 (December 2014) – 16 articles , Pages 532-809

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Open AccessArticle
Let the Weakest Link Go! Empirical Explorations on the Relative Importance of Weak and Strong Ties on Social Networking Sites
Societies 2014, 4(4), 785-809; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040785 - 18 Dec 2014
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3652
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
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Open AccessArticle
Trust into Collective Privacy? The Role of Subjective Theories for Self-Disclosure in Online Communication
Societies 2014, 4(4), 770-784; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040770 - 15 Dec 2014
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2687
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
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Open AccessArticle
The Best of Both Worlds? Online Ties and the Alternating Use of Social Network Sites in the Context of Migration
Societies 2014, 4(4), 753-769; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040753 - 11 Dec 2014
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2117
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
Open AccessArticle
Eating Animals to Build Rapport: Conducting Research as Vegans or Vegetarians
Societies 2014, 4(4), 737-752; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040737 - 10 Dec 2014
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2653
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alimentary Relations, Animal Relations)
Open AccessArticle
Transmitting Health Philosophies through the Traditionalist Chinese Martial Arts in the UK
Societies 2014, 4(4), 712-736; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040712 - 10 Dec 2014
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2118
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Martial Arts and Society: Developing Co-Constituting Perspectives)
Open AccessEditorial
Beyond Techno-Utopia: Critical Approaches to Digital Health Technologies
Societies 2014, 4(4), 706-711; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040706 - 08 Dec 2014
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3991
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Peer Reviews on Source Credibility and Purchase Intention
Societies 2014, 4(4), 689-705; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040689 - 05 Dec 2014
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2950
Abstract
Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) is information shared on the Internet about a product, which allows people to receive information from others they may not otherwise encounter. Online product reviews are a type of eWOM where a user posts a comment about a [...] Read more.
Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) is information shared on the Internet about a product, which allows people to receive information from others they may not otherwise encounter. Online product reviews are a type of eWOM where a user posts a comment about a product and selects an image to represent the self. The perception of the image and the text in the product review can influence source credibility and the perception of the product, as well as the likelihood that someone will purchase the product. This study examines the effect of the product reviews and their different images and text on perceived credibility, source trustworthiness and purchase intention. Consistent with predictions based on the information processing theory, perceived anthropomorphism influences perceived credibility, source trust, and purchase intention. Full article
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Open AccessDiscussion
Animal Personhood in Mi’kmaq Perspective
Societies 2014, 4(4), 672-688; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040672 - 03 Dec 2014
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3175
Abstract
The Mi’kmaq are the First Nation people that traditionally inhabited the eastern coast of North America. This article explores the Mi’kmaq cultural view of non-human animals as siblings and persons, including elements shaping the Mi’kmaq relation with animals such as the belief that [...] Read more.
The Mi’kmaq are the First Nation people that traditionally inhabited the eastern coast of North America. This article explores the Mi’kmaq cultural view of non-human animals as siblings and persons, including elements shaping the Mi’kmaq relation with animals such as the belief that animals sacrifice themselves for food, that human and animal spirits are eternal, and a belief in reincarnation. The role of reciprocity in the animal–human relationship is examined through the concepts of respect and honor, and the Mi’kmaq value of avoiding scarcity (netukulimk) is expanded to include non-human animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alimentary Relations, Animal Relations)
Open AccessArticle
The Organization and Regulation of Full Contact Martial Arts: A Case Study of Flanders
Societies 2014, 4(4), 654-671; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040654 - 28 Nov 2014
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2791
Abstract
To date, martial arts involvement is often described in controversial terms. While some studies report increased anti-social behavior as a result of martial arts involvement, other findings refer to a more positive social and personal development. This paradox has resulted in an ambiguous [...] Read more.
To date, martial arts involvement is often described in controversial terms. While some studies report increased anti-social behavior as a result of martial arts involvement, other findings refer to a more positive social and personal development. This paradox has resulted in an ambiguous public discourse on their value and legitimacy as socially accepted sports, often leading to a dichotomization between “good” and “bad” styles of martial arts. Up until now however, there has been a lack of empirical proof that this “good versus bad” perspective divides along the lines of specific martial arts styles. Consequently, the distinct moral and medical concerns regarding the effects of involvement in harder martial arts—combined with their increased popularity, as well as their perceived positive outcomes for specific target groups—have resulted in a growing demand among policy makers to develop (or rethink) their strategy towards the regulation and support of these sports. By means of a case-study approach, the present paper discusses some of the key issues regarding the regulation of a number of full contact martial arts (e.g., kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA), which are considered to be problematic for (sport) authorities, and which confront sports policy makers in Flanders. In describing the Flemish case, this paper aims to highlight the need to develop a sound martial arts policy that can provide a legitimation base for the provision and organization of full contact martial arts, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Martial Arts and Society: Developing Co-Constituting Perspectives)
Open AccessArticle
Social Network Site Usage and Personal Relations of Migrants
Societies 2014, 4(4), 640-653; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040640 - 13 Nov 2014
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3867
Abstract
In this study, we examine the relation between social network site (SNS) usage and the personal networks of immigrants, using a unique dataset composed of a representative sample of immigrants living in the Netherlands. In theory, SNSs can be a helpful tool for [...] Read more.
In this study, we examine the relation between social network site (SNS) usage and the personal networks of immigrants, using a unique dataset composed of a representative sample of immigrants living in the Netherlands. In theory, SNSs can be a helpful tool for immigrants, because they may help establish social ties in the destination country and help maintain ties with people in the country of origin. We examine whether this is also true in practice by analyzing whether the frequency of using two SNSs—Facebook and Hyves (a Dutch SNS)—is associated with the number of ingroup and outgroup ties, as well as the quality of social relations. In addition, we test whether general emotional disclosure boosts the effect of SNS usage on the quality of relationships. We find that SNS usage is associated with more outgroup ties, but not with more ingroup ties. Our analyses also show that SNS usage is associated with greater quality social relationships among migrants. Contrary to our expectations, we found no interaction between general emotional disclosure and SNS usage on satisfaction with social relations. The implications of these findings are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
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Open AccessArticle
Vegan Killjoys at the Table—Contesting Happiness and Negotiating Relationships with Food Practices
Societies 2014, 4(4), 623-639; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040623 - 05 Nov 2014
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 8130
Abstract
This article reports upon research on vegan transition, which I bring into dialogue with Sara Ahmed’s figure of the killjoy. Ahmed’s work on affect and the feminist killjoy is found to be apt for considering contemporary vegans and their transgression of normative scripts [...] Read more.
This article reports upon research on vegan transition, which I bring into dialogue with Sara Ahmed’s figure of the killjoy. Ahmed’s work on affect and the feminist killjoy is found to be apt for considering contemporary vegans and their transgression of normative scripts of happiness and commensality in a dominant meat and dairy consuming culture. The decentring of joy and happiness is also found to be integral to the critical deconstructive work of the vegan killjoy. Ahmed’s ideas further complement the frame of practice theory that I draw upon to understand the process of transition especially in the sense of opposing the meanings of dominant practices. Although food and veganism are not commented upon by Ahmed, the vegan subject constitutes, I argue, a potent further example of what she terms an “affect alien” who must willfully struggle against a dominant affective order and community. Drawing upon interviews with 40 vegans based in the UK, I illustrate examples of contestation and negotiation by vegans and those close to them. The article finds in the figure of the killjoy not only a frame by which to partly understand the negotiation of relationships between vegans and non-vegans but also an opportunity for further intersectional labour between veganism and feminism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Alimentary Relations, Animal Relations)
Open AccessArticle
Apps as Artefacts: Towards a Critical Perspective on Mobile Health and Medical Apps
Societies 2014, 4(4), 606-622; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040606 - 29 Oct 2014
Cited by 64 | Viewed by 8671
Abstract
Although over 100,000 health and medical mobile apps have been placed on the market, few critical social analyses have been yet undertaken of the role of these apps in healthcare, preventive health and health promotion. In this article I present an argument for [...] Read more.
Although over 100,000 health and medical mobile apps have been placed on the market, few critical social analyses have been yet undertaken of the role of these apps in healthcare, preventive health and health promotion. In this article I present an argument for approaching the study of mobile apps as sociocultural artefacts, focusing specifically on those that have been developed on health and medical topics. This perspective acknowledges that apps are digital objects that are the products of human decision-making, underpinned by tacit assumptions, norms and discourses already circulating in the social and cultural contexts in which they are generated, marketed and used. First, I provide the context, by discussing the gradual digitisation of health and medical information since the advent of the Internet and the emergence of health and medical apps as one of the latest developments. Second, I discuss how a critical perspective may be employed to analyse the social, cultural and political dimensions of health and medical apps. Finally I illustrate how such an approach may be applied by giving a case study of an analysis of the top 10 ranked health and medical apps on the Apple App Store on one day, outlining some major themes and discourses that emerge. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Towards the “Undoing” of Gender in Mixed-Sex Martial Arts and Combat Sports
Societies 2014, 4(4), 587-605; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040587 - 23 Oct 2014
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4143
Abstract
This paper addresses sex integration in martial arts and combat sports, discussing the implications of mixed-sex training for challenging orthodox Western constructions of gender. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 37 long-term martial arts practitioners from around the English East Midlands between 2007–2011, the [...] Read more.
This paper addresses sex integration in martial arts and combat sports, discussing the implications of mixed-sex training for challenging orthodox Western constructions of gender. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 37 long-term martial arts practitioners from around the English East Midlands between 2007–2011, the paper argues that restrictive, essentialist and hierarchal conceptions of sex difference can be challenged through integrated training practices. The paper advocates the “undoing” of gender in this regard as helping to build a more progressive, inclusive and liberal form of physical culture, seen as a key potential of sex-integrated training. To that end, the paper makes a number of proposals for instructors and practitioners interested in developing such inclusive environments in their own clubs and training settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Martial Arts and Society: Developing Co-Constituting Perspectives)
Open AccessArticle
Unpacking Social Media’s Role in Resource Provision: Variations across Relational and Communicative Properties
Societies 2014, 4(4), 561-586; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040561 - 23 Oct 2014
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3822
Abstract
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge existing beliefs regarding the exchange of social resources within a network. The present study examines individuals’ perceived access to social, emotional, and instrumental resources by analyzing relational and Facebook-specific characteristics of dyadic relationships. Results suggest that [...] Read more.
New information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge existing beliefs regarding the exchange of social resources within a network. The present study examines individuals’ perceived access to social, emotional, and instrumental resources by analyzing relational and Facebook-specific characteristics of dyadic relationships. Results suggest that the social and technical affordances of the site—including visibility of content and connections, as well as streamlined processes for interacting with a large audience—may augment existing perceptions of resource access for some ties while providing a major (or sole) outlet to interact and exchange resources with others. Specifically, weaker ties appear to benefit more than strong ties from engagement in directed communication and relationship maintenance strategies, while additional variations were observed across relationship category, dyad composition, and geographic proximity. In summary, these findings provide new evidence for how positive relational gains may be derived from site use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
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Open AccessArticle
Characterizing Cyberbullying among College Students: Hacking, Dirty Laundry, and Mocking
Societies 2014, 4(4), 549-560; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040549 - 22 Oct 2014
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3798
Abstract
Bullying behaviors occur across the lifespan and have increasingly migrated to online platforms where they are known as cyberbullying. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of cyberbullying among college students. Participants were recruited for focus groups through purposeful sampling, [...] Read more.
Bullying behaviors occur across the lifespan and have increasingly migrated to online platforms where they are known as cyberbullying. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of cyberbullying among college students. Participants were recruited for focus groups through purposeful sampling, including recruitment from groups traditionally at risk for bullying. Focus groups discussed views and perceptions of cyberbullying on campuses. Groups were led by a trained facilitator and were audio recorded and manually transcribed. The constant comparative approach was used to identify themes and representative quotations. The 42 participants had an average age of 19.2 (SD = 1.2), 55% were female, 83% were Caucasian. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) lack of agreement on a definition of cyberbullying, but consensus on three representative scenarios: hacking, dirty laundry and mocking; (2) concerns with translating definitions of traditional bullying to cyberbullying; (3) opinions that cyberbullying may manifest differently in college compared to younger adolescents, including increased potential for long-term effects. College students were not in agreement about a theoretical definition, but they could agree upon specific representative instances of cyberbullying. Future studies could consider using common case examples or vignettes of cyberbullying, or creation of developmentally representative definitions by age group. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Victims of Trafficking”: The Feminisation of Poverty and Migration in the Gendered Narratives of Human Trafficking
Societies 2014, 4(4), 532-548; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040532 - 13 Oct 2014
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3807
Abstract
This paper argues that the feminisation of migration has heightened the awareness of human trafficking, yet the feminisation of poverty is a social concept that is yet to be fully understood within the context of human trafficking. The false notion of “return” has [...] Read more.
This paper argues that the feminisation of migration has heightened the awareness of human trafficking, yet the feminisation of poverty is a social concept that is yet to be fully understood within the context of human trafficking. The false notion of “return” has been given as a solution to those individuals who are “out of place” or have been displaced as “victims of trafficking”. This article will discuss the Right to Remain visa applications of 12 women who were trafficked from post-Soviet countries to Israel, by examining the impact that gender, level of poverty and each woman’s decision to migrate has had on her life. In addition, this article will analyse the life experiences of the 12 women who experienced human trafficking. It will explore the idea that each woman is a “victim of trafficking” and that, conversely, this may be understood as a means to negate a more nuanced understanding of women’s mobility. Finally, this article will provide an intersectional analysis of trafficking flows in the world today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and the Global Slave Trade)
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