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Huvila, I., Holmberg, K., Ek, S., Widén-Wulff, G. (2010). Social capital in Second Life. Online Information Review 34 (2), 295-316

Purpose – Second Life is a user-created online virtual world, which is a place where people with shared interests can meet and be together and share information. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether Second Life communities foster and nurture social capital, whether social capital within Second Life is related to social capital outside the virtual world, whether some characteristics affect the likelihood of users having social capital, and whether some existing measure of social capital can be modified and used to study social capital in Second Life.
Design/methodology/approach – The study was based on a statistical analysis of data gathered in a web survey of a convenience sample (n=?67) of Second Life residents. The social capital measure used was based on Bullen and Onyx.
Findings – Second Life is an environment that fosters the emergence of social capital. Residents who consider themselves producers have higher levels of social capital than those who consider themselves non-producers. Having social capital within Second Life is unrelated to having social capital outside the virtual world. The consistency of the instrument proved to be excellent for measuring social capital within Second Life and good outside the virtual world.
Research limitations/implications – The small sample size and the composition of the research population limit the ability to generalise the findings.
Practical implications – Second Life is a potent environment for community building and collective action. However, communities and collective action within Second Life cannot be based on social activity outside the virtual world.
Originality/value – The present study is the first systematic investigation of social capital in Second Life.


Huvila, Isto

Doc., Ph.D. Isto Huvila is an associate professor (docent) and post-doc research fellow (forskarassistent) at the Department of ALM (Archival Studies, Library and Information Science and Museums and Cultural Heritage Studies) at Uppsala University in Sweden, a docent in information studies (...

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