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Wednesday, July 13 • 13:46 - 15:15
Social Resources Affecting Participation of Social Media Users in Poland

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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Contributor: Kamil Filipek, University of Warsaw, Poland


Nowadays, much of the public activities and behaviors can be found in social media. Social media became a tool enabling access, delivery, exchange and mobilization of resources embedded in personal networks. Whereas, the impact of such resources on instrumental and expressive actions is well documented in the literature (Lin 2001, Finsveen and van Oorschot 2008), the role of social media in facilitating/blocking different types of resources that may have na impact on the individual's actions remains little studied (Steinfield, Ellison, and Lampe 2008, Ellison et al. 2014). This research focus on the relationship between social media, individual social capital, and patterns of the political participation among Polish citizens.


Theory of social resources

The theory of social resources proposed by Lin (Lin, Vaughn, and Ensel 1981; Lin 1999; Lin 2001)⁠ makes explicit the assumption that resources embedded in personal networks have an impact on individual actions and can lead to better socioeconomic status (Lin 1999)⁠. He operationalized social capital at the individual level as 'a social asset by virtue of actors’ connections and access to resources in the network or group of which they are members' (Lin 2001). Such resources include symbolic and material goods that make up the social capital (Bourdieu 1986). To distinguish resources owned by others from private resources belonging to an individual, Lin introduced a term 'personal resources'. By personal resources he means “resources possessed by an individual [that] may include ownership of material as well as symbolic goods (e.g., diplomas and degrees)” (Lin 2001).

This research focus on social resources owned by individuals belonging to the respondent's personal network. Based on previous research with the Resource Generator tool (Webber, Huxley, & Harris 2011; Batorski, Bojanowski, & Filipek, 2015), it is assumed here that only some resources could be mobilized in a purposive action. In other words, relatives, friends and acquaintances may possess certain resources, but individuals are not able to use them when acting in various social contexts.

Thus, the main goal of this research is to find out whether and how resources embedded in personal networks (family, friends, acquaintances) influence the political participation of social media users. The following research questions are pursued:

- Do embedded and/or mobilizable resources in personal networks affect the political participiation of respondents?

- What is the impact of resources on respondents' activities selected in this research as indicators of the political participation?

- Whose resources, namely family, friends, acquaintances or respondents have an impact (positive or negative) on the political participation?



The core of the measuring tool is based on the Resource Generator (RG) (Van Der Gaag and Snijders 2005). Items included in the RG are the major independent variables. The RG items refer to the four types of resources (i.e. support, knowledge, recommendation, and material resources) embedded and mobilized through personal networks, that may have an impact on the individual's participation.

The dependent variable is represented by five items (5-point Likert scales) reflecting the respondents' political participation. Those items include (1) voting in elections, (2) signing petitions, (3) joining protests, (4) personal contacts with politicians, (5) local community meetings.

The data has been collected through the online questionnaire among individuals registered at the online research platform delivered by external partner. The research has been conducted in December 2015 on stratified random sample of 1000 (700 SM users and 300  non-users) residents of Poland.


The research shows that resources embedded in family, friends and acquaintances ties have an impact on the political participation of respondents. The impact of resources appears be either positive or negative depending on the activity selected for analysis. For example, resources that could be only accessed, but not mobilised by respondents have no impact on dependent variable defined as voting in elections. At the same time, resources that could be mobilized have positive impact on voting. When signing petition activity is examined the impact of resources is reversed. There is no effect of mobilizable resources and positive impact of resources that are embedded in individual's personal network. The strong ties (family and friends) are better source of embedded resources that have a positive impact on the political participation of social media users in Poland. In general, weak ties have no or negative effect on activities examined in this research. The only exception is voting in elections. It is found that resources mobilizable through weak ties may have a positive impact on respondents voting activity.

Thus, the amount and quality of social capital embedded in personal networks matter when the political participation is considered. Resources embedded in family, friends and acquaintances circles have an impact on certain activities exemplifying the political participation of social media users in Poland.

Future Work: 

The quantitative data will be combined with the qualitative data obtained via in-depth interviews based on position generator tool.


Batorski, D., Bojanowski, M., & Filipek, K. (2015). Getting a Job: Resources and Individual’s Chances on the Warsaw Labour Market. Polish Sociological Review, 192(4).

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education (pp. 46–58). New York: Greenwood Press.

Ellison, N. B., Vitak, J., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2014). Cultivating Social Resources on Social Network Sites: Facebook Relationship Maintenance Behaviors and Their Role in Social Capital Processes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(4), 855–870. http://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12078

Finsveen, E., & van Oorschot, W. (2008). Access to Resources in Networks: A Theoretical and Empirical Critique of Networks as a Proxy for Social Capital. Acta Sociologica, 51(4), 293–307. http://doi.org/10.1177/0001699308097375

Lin, Nan. 1999. “Building a Network Theory of Social Capital” edited by N. Lin, K. S. Cook, and R. S. Burt. Connections 22(1):28–51.

Lin, Nan. 2001. Social Capital. A Theory of Social Structure and Action. Cambridge University Press.

Lin, Nan, John C. Vaughn, and Walter M. Ensel. 1981. “Social Resources and Occupational Status Attainment *.” Social Forces 59(4):1163–81. Retrieved (social resources, netoworks).

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 434–445. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.002

Van Der Gaag, M., & Snijders, T. a. B. (2005). The Resource Generator: social capital quantification with concrete items. Social Networks, 27(1), 1–29. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2004.10.001

Webber, M., Huxley, P., & Harris, T. (2011). Social capital and the course of depression: Six-month prospective cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 129(1-3), 149–157. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2010.08.005

Wednesday July 13, 2016 13:46 - 15:15 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326 Goldsmiths University, Building 2