Volume 3, No 4, 2006
Getting Connected: Can Social Capital be Virtual?
This article reports on an analysis of data from a study conducted in Australia on the impact of Internet access on social capital. The debate regarding the definition of social capital is explored, and basic indicators of social capital resolved. The apparent emergence of the phenomenon of virtual social capital is also discussed. Australians overall have widely adopted the Internet as a source of information and communication. Data collected in a mass survey conducted in 2004 is analysed and considered. Factors associated with Internet access are: access to the Internet in the home and employment status. There are also strong links between the levels of education completed and use of the Internet. On the basis of the evidence, Australians with Internet access are more likely to engage in activities generally regarded as indicators of individual expressions of social capital.
Keywords: Social capital; Virtual activism; Civic engagement; Social cohesion; World Wide Web; Internet access