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Franzen, A. (2003). Social Capital and the Internet. Evidence from Swiss Panel Data. Kyklos 56 (3), 341-360

A lively debate has recently emerged about the consequences of the diffusion of the Internet. While many social scientists emphasize the beneficial economic consequences of the Internet some suspect that it has also disadvantages for users’ social capital. So far the existing empirical evidence concerning the effect on social capital is mainly based on cross-sectional data and is still contradictory. This study is based on a longitudinal survey conducted in 1998 and 2001 among a random sample of Swiss citizens. It analyzes the determinants of the adoption of the Internet and the consequences for respondents’ personal networks as well as the time they spent socializing with their network. The results show that the Internet was adopted sooner by individuals with high financial, human and social capital. Furthermore, the results suggest that Internet use is not associated with a reduction in respondents’ networks or with the time they spent socializing with friends. Instead the findings suggest that the time users devote to the Internet is taken away from the time they spend on watching television.


Franzen, Axel

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