Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites

Link: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/hargittai.html

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Citation: Hargittai, E. (2007). Whose Space? Differences among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 13: article 14.

Abstract

Are there systematic differences between people who use social network sites and those who stay away, despite a familiarity with them? Based on data from a survey administered to a diverse group of young adults, this article looks at the predictors of SNS usage, with particular focus on Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, and Friendster. Findings suggest that use of such sites is not randomly distributed across a group of highly wired users. A person’s gender, race and ethnicity, and parental educational background are all associated with use, but in most cases only when the aggregate concept of social network sites is disaggregated by service. Additionally, people with more experience and autonomy of use are more likely to be users of such sites. Unequal participation based on user background suggests that differential adoption of such services may be contributing to digital inequality.

Outline

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Differentiating
  • Types of Internet Uses
  • The Challenges of Studying SNS Adoption
  • Methods
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

Acknowledgments

The author thanks the guest editors–danah boyd and Nicole Ellison–for their valuable comments. She is also grateful for helpful input from Paul DiMaggio, Greg Duncan, Jeremy Freese, W. Russell Neuman, Barbara O’Keefe, and Daniel O’Keefe. She appreciates the support of faculty and staff at the University of Illinois-Chicago for making this study possible, namely, Mary Case, Ann Feldman, Tom Moss, and Karen Mossberger. Additionally, she thanks the following people for their assistance with data collection and entry: Waleeta Canon, Gina Walejko, Soo An, Dan Li, and the group of undergraduate research assistants in the Web Use Project group during the 2006-07 academic year. She is very grateful for the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through its Digital Media and Learning initiative. She is also indebted to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and The Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellowship in Communication. She thanks the support offered by Northwestern University’s Research Grants Committee, the School of Communication Innovation Fund, and the Department of Communication Studies Research Fund.

Funders

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Northwestern University Research Grants Committee
Northwestern University School of Communication Innovation Fund
Northwestern University Communication Studies Department Research Fund

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