Empirical studies have documented a decline in indicators of social participation in the last five decades. The responsibility of social disengagement has often been attributed to pervasive busyness and the increasing pressure on time. In this paper we argue that computer-mediated interaction, and particularly online networking, can help mitigate this downward trend. We develop a logical framework for assessing the role of the Internet in the evolution of social participation. We analyze an economy where agents can develop their social interactions through two main modes of participation, one encompassing both online networking and face to face interactions, and the other solely based on physical encounters. We study the interdependence between the increase in the pressure on time and the variation in the relative performance of the two strategies of participation.
► We study the role of the Internet in the evolution of social capital. ► We point out interdependence between pressure of time and web-mediated participation. ► We find that online networking can halt the decline in the stock of social capital.
Internet;Computer-mediated communication;Online networking;Facebook;Social networks;Social capital