Translation | Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices

Jan 15, 2021
The concept of social capital describes the benefits individuals derive from their social relationships and interactions: resources such as emotional support, exposure to diverse ideas, and access to non-redundant information. Social capital is embedded in the structure of social networks and the location of individuals within these structures (Burt, 2005). Because social network sites (SNSs) have the potential to reshape social networks and lower the costs of communicating with (and thus contributing to and extracting benefits from) this social network, SNS use may have social capital implications. This study is among the first to explore the relationship between social capital and specific communication practices on the most popular SNS among US undergraduates, Facebook.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices.New media & society, 13(6), 873-892.

The concept of social capital describes the benefits individuals derive from their social relationships and interactions: resources such as emotional support, exposure to diverse ideas, and access to non-redundant information. Social capital is embedded in the structure of social networks and the location of individuals within these structures (Burt, 2005). Because social network sites (SNSs) have the potential to reshape social networks and lower the costs of communicating with (and thus contributing to and extracting benefits from) this social network, SNS use may have social capital implications. This study is among the first to explore the relationship between social capital and specific communication practices on the most popular SNS among US undergraduates, Facebook.
社会资本的概念描述了个人从他们的社会关系和互动中获得的利益:诸如情感支持、接触不同想法和获得非冗余信息等资源。社会资本蕴含于社会网络的结构和个人所处结构位置(Burt,2005)。由于社交网站 (SNS) 有重塑社会网络和降低与这个社会网络沟通的成本 (从而促成和从中获得利益) 的潜能,因此社交网站使用可能具有社会资本的意涵。本研究是探索社会资本与美国大学生中最流行的 社交网站 —— Facebook 上的具体通信行为之间关系的先行者。
Previous scholarship has addressed issues such as the demographic characteristics of SNS users (Hargittai, 2007) and the personal information they reveal on these sites (Acquisti and Gross, 2006), but there is currently little empirical research that describes the specific communication-based relational activities that occur on these sites (who does what and with whom) and how these behaviors affect outcomes of interest. Similarly, while the literature provides a basic understanding of whether Friendships1 on SNSs represent pre-existing offline connections or new relationships forged online (Ellison et al., 2007), measurement difficulties hamper our ability to provide a clear picture of how online and offline modes of communication replace, complement, and facilitate one another. In the research presented here, we test the proposition that Facebook users will have different ‘connection strategies,’ a term which describes a suite of Facebook-related relational communication activities, and explore the relationship between these connec-tion strategies and social capital outcomes.
先前研究已经涉及社交网站户的人口统计学特征(Hargittai,2007)和他们在这些网站上透露的个人信息(Acquisti 和 Gross,2006)等问题,但目前很少有实证研究来描述这些网站上发生的特定的基于交流的关系活动(谁做了什么、与谁做),以及这些行为如何影响感兴趣的结果。同样,虽然文献提供了一个基本的理解,即社交网站上的朋友关系代表的是已有的线下联系还是在线上形成的新关系(Ellison 等,2007),但测量上的困难阻碍了我们描摹一个清晰的图景,即说明线上和线下的沟通模式如何相互替代、补充和促进。在本研究中,我们检验了 Facebook 用户会有不同的 “连接策略 “这一命题,该术语描述了一套与 Facebook 相关的交际活动,并探索了这些连接策略和社会资本结果之间的关系。
Previous work has established a relationship between Facebook use and social capital levels among undergraduate students (Ellison et al., 2007; Steinfield et al., 2008; Valenzuela et al., 2009). It is not clear, however, whether there are particular uses of Facebook that are more likely to result in positive social capital outcomes. In other contexts, scholars have argued that while the internet makes vast amounts of informa-tion available, only those who have the skills necessary to locate and evaluate this content can take full advantage of it (Hargittai, 2008). Examining SNS use more specifically, Papacharissi and Mendelson (2008) explored the relationship between moti-vations for using Facebook and social capital outcomes and Burke et al. (2010) found that while Facebook use overall was associated with social capital, there was a stronger association between social capital and active contributions to the site (versus passive consumption of others’ information). These studies suggest that users who have the ability and inclination to engage in certain SNS activities may be more likely to reap social capital benefits.
既往工作已建立 Facebook 使用和本科生的社会资本水平之间的关系(Ellison 等,2007;Steinfield 等,2008;Valenzuela 等,2009)。然尚未明晰,是否存在某些 Facebook 特定使用更有能带来社会资本的积极结果。在其它语境中学者认为,尽管互联网提供了大量信息,但只有那些拥有必要的技能来定位和评估这些内容的人才能充分利用它(Hargittai,2008)。Papacharissi 和 Mendelson(2008)对社交网站使用进行了更深入的研究,探讨了使用 Facebook 的动机与社会资本结果之间的关系;Burke 等人(2010)发现,尽管 Facebook 的使用总体上与社会资本相关,但社会资本与对网站的主动贡献(相对于被动消费他人信息)之间的关联更强。这些研究表明,有能力和倾向参与某些 社交网站活动的用户可能更容易获得社会资本的好处。
In addition to explicating this relationship between SNS communication behaviors and social capital, this study advances our ability to measure internet-related social behaviors. Currently, SNS researchers use a variety of measures to assess SNS use, such as number of Friends (Joinson, 2008), time on site (Tong et al., 2008), or the number of completed profile fields (Lampe et al., 2007; Stecher and Counts, 2008). The Facebook Intensity (FBI) scale, developed by Ellison et al. (2007) and used in other Facebook research (e.g., Tomai et al., 2010; Valenzuela et al., 2009), uses time on site, number of Friends, and a series of Likert-scale attitudinal items such as, ‘I feel out of touch when I haven’t logged onto Facebook for a while.’ Similar to the way in which scholarship on the digital divide has evolved from simple measures of internet access to nuanced assessments of internet activities, SNS researchers need to develop measures of specific SNS-based communication practices, not just generic usage, in order to better discern usage patterns and their effects.
除了解释社交网站交际行为和社会资本之间的这种关系外,这项研究还增强了我们测量互联网相关社会行为的能力。目前,社交网站研究者使用各种测量方法来评估社交网站的使用情况,如朋友数量(Joinson,2008),在网站上的时间(Tong 等,2008),或完成的个人资料字段数量(Lampe 等,2007;Stecher 和 Counts,2008)。Facebook Intensity(FBI)量表由 Ellison 等人(2007)开发,并在其他 Facebook 研究中使用(如 Tomai 等,2010;Valenzuela 等,2009),使用了在网站上的时间、 朋友数量和一系列李克特量表的态度项目,如 “当我有一段时间没有登录 Facebook 时,我感觉失去了联系”。与关于数字鸿沟的研究从简单的互联网访问量发展到对互联网活动进行细微评估的方式类似,社交网站研究者需要开发基于社交网站的具体交流实践的测量方法,而不仅仅是一般使用,以便更好地辨别使用模式及其效果。
An important component of measuring SNS communication practices entails accurately characterizing the kinds of social relationships that are being formed and main-tained via SNSs. One question is whether SNSs are primarily used to form mixed-mode relationships (which form online and then migrate offline; see Walther and Parks, 2002) or to support existing relationships. In general terms, there is evidence that SNSs are more often used to articulate previously established relationships (see boyd & Ellison, 2007, for a review). However, measurement difficulties, especially surrounding the con-cepts of ‘offline’ and ‘online’ interaction, point to a need to confirm and unpack this general trend.2 An investigation into the ways SNS users manage their online and offline interactions and the outcomes of these practices is important because it has the potential to shed light on a recurring debate within the internet effects literature: whether the inter-net augments or displaces social relationships. For instance, Bessiere et al. (2008) found that using the internet to ‘meet new people’ was associated with higher depression scores seven months later; they speculated that these new connections constituted weak ties, and that interactions with people met online replaced time spent with strong ties. However, they noted that they were unable to determine ‘what “meeting new people” online … really meant to [their] respondents’ (p. 64). Assessing the role of SNS use in offline and online interactions will contribute to our understanding of how these tools reshape social networks and the outcomes of these practices.
衡量社交网站交际实践的一个重要组成部分是准确地描述通过社交网站形成和维持的社会关系的种类。其中一个问题是,社交网站是主要用于形成混合关系(在线形成,然后迁移到离线;见 Walther 和 Parks, 2002)还是支持现有关系。总的来说,有证据表明,社交网站更多的是用来表达之前建立的关系(参见 Boyd & Ellison, 2007, 一篇评论)。然而测量的困难,特别是围绕 “离线 “和 “在线 “互动的概念(的困难,译注),表明有必要确认和解读这一总体趋势。对社交网站用户管理其在线和离线互动的方式以及这些实践的结果进行调查是很重要的,因为它有可能阐明互联网效应文献中反复出现的辩论:网络间是增强还是取代社会关系。例如,Bessiere 等人(2008)发现,使用互联网 “认识新朋友 “与七个月后较高的抑郁评分有关;他们推测这些新的联系构成了弱关系,与网上认识的人的互动取代了花在强关系上的时间。然而他们指出,他们无法确定 “在网上认识新朋友……对[ 他们的] 受访者意味着什么”(第 64 页)。评估社交网站使用在线下和线上互动中的作用,将有助于我们理解这些工具如何重塑社会网络以及这些实践的结果。

Social capital and relationship development online and offline


The concept of social capital traces its roots to the work of Bourdieu (1986) and Coleman (1988), with subsequent extension by Burt (1992), Putnam (1995), and Lin (2001). Social capital can be considered as ‘the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition’ (Bourdieu, 1986: 248). Social capital can be understood as a form of capital, like financial or human capital, that is embedded in the relationships between individuals, and can be measured at the individ-ual or group level.
社会资本的概念可以追溯到 Bourdieu(1986) 和 Coleman(1988) 的工作,随后 Burt(1992)、Putnam(1995) 和 Lin(2001) 对其进行了扩展。社会资本可以被认为是 “与拥有或多或少制度化的相互认识和认可的持久关系网络有关的实际或潜在资源的总和”(Bourdieu, 1986: 248)。社会资本可以理解为像金融资本或人力资本一样蕴含在个体关系中的一种资本形式,它可以在个人或群体层面进行衡量。
Putnam (2000) delineated two basic forms of social capital: bonding and bridging. Bonding social capital describes benefits from close personal relationships, which might include emotional support, physical succor, or other ‘large’ benefits (such as willingness to loan a substantial sum of money). Bridging social capital, the benefits derived from casual acquaintances and connections, can also lead to tangible outcomes such as novel information from distant connections and broader worldviews. Empirical research confirms the practical importance of bridging social capital. In Granovetter’s (1973) work on ‘the strength of weak ties’, weak ties in a social network were more likely to have information not possessed by the individual or by the individual’s strong ties. Similarly, Boase et al. (2006) found that those with a wider range of occupations represented in their social circle were more likely to get help doing things like changing jobs or finding health information.
Putnam (2000) 划分了社会资本的两种基本形式:结合型和桥接型。结合型社会资本描述的是来自于密切的个人关系的利益,可能包括情感支持、物质帮助,或其它 “大” 的利益(如愿意借出一大笔钱)。桥接型社会资本,即从偶然的相识和联系中获得的利益,也可以带来有形的结果,如从远距离的联系中获得新的信息和更广阔的世界观。实证研究证实了桥接型社会资本的实际重要性。在Granovetter(1973)关于 “弱联系的力量 “的研究中,社会网络中的弱联系更有可能拥有个人或个人的强联系所不具备的信息。同样,Boase 等人 (2006) 发现那些在社交圈中拥有较多职业代表的人在做换工作或寻找健康信息等事情时更容易得到帮助。

Social interactions on SNSs


SNSs are bundles of technological tools that incorporate features of earlier technologies (such as personal websites) but recombine them into a new context that supports users’ ability to form and maintain a wide network of social connections. Although precise data regarding usage are not available, survey data suggest that upwards of 90 percent of undergraduates use Facebook (Lampe et al., 2008). After creating a profile on a SNS such as Facebook, users typically invite others into their network, thus giving one another increased access to profile information and more communication options. In Facebook, this is called ‘Friending’ (a verb used to describe adding someone to one’s ‘Friends’ list), and there is a wide range of conceptions of what Friendship on an SNS signals (boyd, 2006).
社交网站是技术工具的集合 (bundles,意译,译注),它结合了早期技术(如个人网站)的特点,但将它们重新组合成一个新的支撑用户形成和维持广泛社会联系网络的能力的环境。尽管没有关于使用情况的精确数据,但调查数据显示,90% 以上的大学生使用 Facebook(Lampe 等,2008)。在像 Facebook 这样的社交网站上创建了个人档案后,用户通常会邀请其他人进入他们的网络,从而给彼此增加了获取个人档案信息的机会和更多的交际选项。在 Facebook 中,这被称为 “交友”(一个动词,用于描述将某人添加到自己的“朋友”列表中),这里,对社交网站上的“友情”标识有诸多概念(Boyd,2006)。
Boyd and Ellison (2007) argue that the term ‘social network sites’ reflects actual usage patterns, in that individuals are typically using the sites to articulate and reflect offline social relationships, and are generally not trying to meet strangers on the site (as might be suggested by the term ‘social networking sites’). The extant literature on this topic suggests that Facebook is used more for communication among acquaintances and offline contacts than it is for connecting with strangers (Ellison et al., 2007; Lampe et al., 2006) and that most Facebook ‘Friend’ connections represent ‘in person’ relation-ships (Mayer and Puller, 2008; Subrahmanyam et al., 2008). This represents a funda-mental difference between SNSs and earlier ‘online communities,’ which utilized the internet as a way to bring together people based on shared interests as opposed to shared geography (Rheingold, 1993). Traditional survey measures that attempt to probe communication patterns may not be transferable to SNS contexts because they do not adequately capture the overlapping nature of online and offline interactions. For instance, consider two students who have never spoken but learn from Facebook that they share the same hometown – information that prompts a face-to-face interaction in class the following day. Although this interaction occurs face-to-face, it is predicated on online information – a nuance that would not be captured by traditional questionnaire items that ask whether they first ‘met’ online or offline. Conceptualizing ‘online to offline’ and ‘offline to online’ as dichotomous and mutually exclusive constructs prevents these important distinctions from emerging, stymieing our ability to describe and understand these communication processes.
Boyd 和 Ellison (2007) 认为,”社交网站 “一词反映了实际的使用模式,因为个人通常使用这些网站来表达和反映线下的社会关系,而不是试图在网站上结识陌生人(如 “社交网站 “一词所暗示的那样)。关于这一主题的现有文献表明,Facebook 更多的是用于熟人和线下联系人之间的交流,而不是用于与陌生人的联系(Ellison 等,2007 年;Lampe 等,2006 年),而且大多数 Facebook 的 “朋友 “连接代表了 “个人 “关系(Mayer 和 Puller,2008 年;Subrahmanyam 等人,2008 年)。这代表了社交网站和早期的 “在线社区 “之间的一个基础性差异,后者利用互联网将人们聚集在一起的方式是基于共同的兴趣而不是共同的地理(Rheingold,1993)。试图探究网络交流模式的传统调查措施可能无法转移到社交网站环境中,因为它们无法充分捕捉到在线和离线互动的社交网站重叠性。例如,考虑两个从未交谈过的学生,但从 Facebook 上了解到他们有着相同的家乡——这些信息促使他们在第二天的课堂上进行面对面的互动。虽然这种互动是面对面发生的,但它是以线上信息为前提的——传统的问卷调查项目不会捕捉到这种细微的差别,因为传统的问卷调查项目会问他们是在线上还是线下第一次 “见面”。将 “线上到线下 “和 “线下到线上 “概念化为二元对立和相互排斥的建构,阻碍了这些重要区别的出现,阻碍了我们描述和理解这些交流过程的能力。
In addition to supporting existing social relationships, Facebook contains many fea-tures that could be used to create new connections, although this seems to be a less com-mon use. At the time of data collection, users could randomly browse the profiles of those in their Facebook ‘network’ (potentially thousands of individuals) whose privacy settings permitted access and then poke, message, or try to Friend them. They could also encounter other users through shared SNS contexts, such as playing ‘Farmville’ or other application-based games, and Friend them in order to receive in-game benefits associated with a larger Friend network. However, these forms of indiscriminate Friending should be distinguished from the practice of ‘social browsing’ (Lampe et al., 2006), which refers to investigating people with whom one shares an offline connection, such as a shared class or mutual friend. In short, Facebook supports a wide spectrum of possible connections, ranging from those who share an offline connection to complete strangers who find one another through a variety of features such as Groups, networks, fan pages, social games and applications, photographs, interest-based profile fields, status updates, and Friend networks.
除了支持现有的社会关系,Facebook 还包含了许多可以用来建立新的联系的方法,尽管这似乎是一个不太常见的用途。在收集数据时,用户可以随机浏览 Facebook “网络 “中那些隐私设置允许访问的用户(可能有数千人)的资料,然后戳、私信或尝试 “交友”。他们也可能在共享的社交网站环境中遇到其他用户(例如玩 “Farmville” 或其他基于应用的游戏)并与他们 “交友”以获得游戏中的好处,这与一个更大的朋友网络有关。然而,这些形式的泛滥 ”交友“ 应当与 ”社交浏览“(Lampe 等,2006)区分开来,后者指的是调查(investigating )与自己有共同线下联系的人,如共同的班级或共同的朋友。简而言之,Facebook 支持广泛的、从那些共享线下联系的人到完全陌生的人的可能联系,他们通过各种功能找到彼此,如群组、网络、粉丝页面、社交游戏和应用、照片、基于兴趣的个人资料字段、状态更新和朋友网络。
The concept of latent ties can help distinguish between these different Friending practices on Facebook. Haythornthwaite (2005) described the ways in which information and communication technologies open up new pathways of communication between individuals who would not otherwise connect. These ‘latent ties,’ defined as connections that are ‘technically possible but not yet activated socially’ (p. 137), arise whenever a new medium is introduced that enables individuals to connect with each other (e.g., a telephone system and a telephone directory). As Ellison et al. (2007) speculated, Facebook’s inclusion of a wide range of identifying information, including mutual friends and shared interests, may encourage users to activate latent ties, transforming them into the weak and bridging ties associated with positive bridging social capital outcomes. Based on this review, it is important to distinguish between uses of the site that involve initiating a relationship with a complete stranger, with no previous offline connection, and uses that essentially activate online ties among those who share an offline connection. Our use of the term ‘latent tie’ thus describes a relationship between two individuals which has not been socially activated. These individuals may have a passing awareness of one another (or may have even met briefly), but the affordances of the SNS serve to enhance and accelerate the relationship development process.
潜在联系的概念可以帮助区分 Facebook 上这些不同的 “交友” 实践。Haythornthwaite (2005) 描述了信息和通信技术,在没有这种方式就不会联系的个人之间,开辟新的沟通方式。这些 “潜在的联系”,被定义为 “技术上可能但社会上尚未激活 “的联系(第 137 页),每当引入一种新的媒介,使个人能够相互联系(例如,电话系统和电话簿)时,就会产生这种联系。正如 Ellison 等人 (2007) 所推测的那样,Facebook 包含了广泛的身份信息,包括共同的朋友和共同的兴趣,可能会鼓励用户激活潜在的联系,将其转化为与积极的桥接社会资本结果相关的弱联系和桥接联系。基于这篇评论,重要的是要区分网站的使用,即涉及与一个完全陌生的、之前没有线下联系的人发起关系,以及本质上激活那些共享线下联系的人之间的在线联系的使用。因此,我们使用 “潜在联系 “这个术语来描述两个人之间尚未被社会激活的关系。这些人可能对彼此有粗浅了解(甚至可能有过短暂的见面),但社交网站的功能有助于加强和加速这种关系的发展过程。
SNSs are also used by close friends, although little published research focuses on these uses. Close friends who connect through Facebook are likely to find it an efficient and easy way to keep in touch, and the lightweight interactions enabled by the site are likely to benefit these more developed relationships as well. In fact, 20 percent of the SNS users in research by Subrahmanyam et al. (2008) reported that their SNS use brought them closer to friends, and Ellison et al. (2007) found that intensity of Facebook use predicted bonding social capital, which is often associated with strong ties such as close friends. Facebook is unlikely to be a critical communication channel for close friends because these stronger ties typically use multiple, redundant channels to communicate, as suggested by media multiplexity (Haythornthwaite, 2005).
社交网站也被亲密朋友使用,哪怕很少有成文研究关注这类用途。通过 Facebook 建立联系的密友很可能会发现它是保持联系的一种有效而简单的方式,而该网站所实现的轻量级互动也很可能有利于这些更深入的(developed,意译,译注)关系。事实上,在 Subrahmanyam 等人(2008)的研究中,20% 的社交网站用户报告说他们的社交网站使用使他们与朋友的关系更加密切;Ellison 等人(2007)发现 Facebook 的使用强度可以预测结合型社会资本,而社会资本通常与密友等强关系相关。但(译注)Facebook 不太可能成为密友的关键沟通渠道,因为这些强关系通常使用多种冗余渠道进行沟通,正如媒体多义性 (media multiplexity) 所指出的那样(Haythornthwaite,2005)。

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