The Implications of Social Capital for the Digital Divides in America
Wenhong ChenThe existing literature is oriented towards examining how Internet access and use may affect social capital. The role of social capital in narrowing the digital divides has been frequently mentioned but few studies have empirically examined how various types of social capital may affect people’s access and use of the Internet. Drawing on a two-wave national panel dataset, this paper aims to fill this gap. Results demonstrate social capital facilitates Internet access and use. In particular resource-rich bonding social capital helps overcome the digital divides both in access, general use, and online communication. Before the Internet can revitalize social capital, there must be the right social capital in place to close the digital divides. Highlighting the relationship between social connectivity and digital connectivity, the findings have important implications for policymakers and practitioners.
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