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Title: Joining, participating in and withdrawing from a social networking site
Authors: Osorio Toro, Carlos Andres
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis contributes to our understanding of the user behaviour on social networking sites by studying the users’ life cycle. More specifically, it examines the motivations for the three key stages of this cycle - namely joining, participating and withdrawing. Previous literature on the topic puts strong emphasis on the participation stage, typically focusing on general purpose SNS, such as Facebook and Myspace. As a result, there is a dearth of research on the other two stages of the life cycle. Also, there are only a few studies on specific purpose or niche networks. Attending to these gaps, this study’s research questions explore the main motivations that drive a person to join, participate and close their account in an SNS. The work on both the first two stages, i.e. the study of joining and participating in niche SNS, is based on the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behaviour, and the Uses and Gratifications Theory respectively, using Structural Equation Modelling in both cases. In order to gain more detailed insight into user withdrawal, a different strategy was adopted that was based on a qualitative data collection that was analysed quantitatively using Social Network Analysis. The theoretical framework was informed by Social Identity Theory, using the disidentification concept to explain user withdrawal. The data collected for the research comes from primary sources, having SNS users as a sample frame for the first two stages and former SNS users for the last one. Consistent with the methodology proposed, the data was collected using online questionnaires for the research on joining and participation and laddered interviews for withdrawal. The findings show that for a user to join an SNS it is important to perceive the SNS as easy to use, yet novel enough to make it look different from existing networks. Regarding participation in niche SNS, the research identified the importance of networking gratification, as well as the social support that users can receive through these networks. Likewise, people participate in niche SNS to search for information related to the purpose of the network, which is linked to the learning gratification sought by the users. Lastly, users withdraw from a social network due to issues relating to impression management, as well as looking to regain control of the image they want to project online.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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