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Title: Political anatomy of internet users in Korea : does the internet influence social capital and political participation?
Authors: Uhm, Seung-Yong
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The thesis inquires about the factors affecting the behaviours and attitudes of Internet users, some of which may be contributory to the creation of social capital and the better performance of political process from the perspective of participatory democracy. Based on the use and gratification theory and other relevant theories, the model focuses on the causal relationships among the three groups of variables: internal motives for Internet use influence general patterns of individuals’ Internet usage, which are constructed as the sources of social capital; and the motives and the general patterns have impact on their political use of the Internet which I conceptualize as engagement in online political opportunities. The structural equation model is employed for confirming latent factors and conducting path analysis, providing the evidences of the causal relationships among the three factors: motives for Internet use, the sources of social capital and the properties of engagement in political opportunities. The details of the findings include: firstly, confirmatory factors analysis produced three needs of motives for Internet use (social, informational and emotional needs), two types of interpersonal ties (strong and weak ties), and two factors of engagement in online political opportunities (activeness and positiveness); secondly, social and informational needs have positive influence on the source of social capital, for example, by widening and deepening interpersonal relationships, in contrast of negative impact of emotional needs; thirdly, frequent visit to those websites serving entertainment information demonstrated negative impact on engagement in online political opportunities; fourthly, path analysis shows that while social needs and strong interpersonal ties have positive relationship on active use of online political opportunities, informational needs and weak ties have influence on positive evaluation of online political opportunities (efficacy); lastly, logistic regression analysis suggests individuals’ social and political capital in the offline context and their patterns of traditional media consumption may affect their engagement in online political opportunities. Ultimately, the thesis is aimed at understanding Internet users as actors in the political process from the view of social capital theory. In the plebiscitary, communitarian and pluralistic approach, individual use of the Internet makes political process more effective and democratic. The Internet makes actors in the process become more knowledgeable on public issues, rich in dense and loose interpersonal networks, and trusting in virtual community. In conclusion, using the Internet contributes the creation of social capital, establishing sustainable social environment for good governance.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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