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Let the Weakest Link Go! Empirical Explorations on the Relative Importance of Weak and Strong Ties on Social Networking Sites

Social Psychology: Media and Communication, Faculty of Engineering, University of Duisburg-Essen, Forsthausweg 2, Duisburg 47057, Germany
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These authors contributed equally to this work.
Societies 2014, 4(4), 785-809; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc4040785
Received: 30 July 2014 / Revised: 29 August 2014 / Accepted: 2 December 2014 / Published: 18 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Social Capital)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: social capital; bridging/bonding social capital; social support online; social networking sites social capital; bridging/bonding social capital; social support online; social networking sites
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Krämer, N.C.; Rösner, L.; Eimler, S.C.; Winter, S.; Neubaum, G. Let the Weakest Link Go! Empirical Explorations on the Relative Importance of Weak and Strong Ties on Social Networking Sites. Societies 2014, 4, 785-809.

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