A patchwork of online community-based systems: can social software be used to augment online individual social capital?

Peter Mechant


The first part of this paper discusses the conceptual differences between web2.0 and social software. We argue that in communication sciences the phrase social software is more appropriate than web2.0 and provide a definition for social software based on expert interviews. From there, we develop a typology for social software based on four criteria: content management, communication, collaboration and community-related activities. Each of these dimensions has its own theoretical significance and can be viewed as a key concept in the understanding of social software. Furthermore, these dimensions can be used to visualise types or certain usage-patterns of social software.
In the second part of the paper we explore the relationship between social software and social capital. Social software targets the fulfilment of certain needs (for example the need for online content management) and it tries to do so by means of social, bottom-up processes during which social networks are created and maintained. Social software can widen the experience of community (connecting people with others who have different beliefs or backgrounds) or deepen it (reinforcing and enhancing existing social networks). This indicates that social software can be used to augment individual social capital.


social software, social capital, internet

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS332009304