Social capital development of college students through online social networks

Gabriel Valerio, Ricardo Valenzuela


Purpose: To understand how online social networks promote social capital development of college students.

Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative and ethnographic, studied during an academic semester (5 months) the case of a group of 21 university students of Information Technology Management from a private school in Mexico. Was used participant observation, through Facebook, and the interview as data collection tools.

Findings and Originality/value: Online social networks have the potential to encourage social capital development, because they promote, in different proportions, the relational dimensions of social capital: confidence, identification, sharing standards and the acquisition of expectations and obligations. The three main features that have online social networks to promote the development of social capital are: the possibility of sharing information resources, the ability to communicate both publicly and privately and the possibility of increasing the contacts network.

Research limitations/implications: A) the activities carried out privately was not observed. B) Although there are many online social networks, only was analyzed the behavior of participants through Facebook. C) The profile of the participants of the community under study is quite homogeneous. Therefore, when interpreting the results, the level of generalization is reduced to communities with similar characteristics.

Originality/value: Previous research has shown that online social networks can promote social capital development in college students. However, this paper identifies the specific characteristics of online social networks, and behaviors of college students, that allow such development.


social capital, social networks, college students

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2024

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience