Interesting upcoming Harvard lunchtime talk on Internet & Social Capital

Flickr photo by www_ukberri_net

On Sept. 8, 2011 at the Harvard Kennedy School at lunchtime from 12-1:30, Ludget Woessmann from Munich, Germany is speaking about his research on “The Internet and Social Capital.”

Woessman is on the faculty of Economics, University of Munich and Head of the Department of Human Capital and Innovation, Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

If interested in attending, e-mail Antonio at pepgadmin@hks.harvard.edu.

The lunchtime talk comes out of a recent CESIfo Working paper titled “Surfing Alone? The Internet and Social Capital: Evidence from an Unforeseeable Technological Mistake.” The paper is co-written by Stefan Bauernschuster, Oliver Falck, and Ludger Woessmann. CESIFO WORKING PAPER NO. 3469 (May 2011)

Abstract: Does the Internet undermine social capital or facilitate inter-personal and civic engagement in the real world? Merging unique telecommunication data with geo-coded German individual-level data, we investigate how broadband Internet affects several dimensions of social capital. One identification strategy uses panel information to estimate value-added models. A second exploits a quasi-experiment in East Germany created by a mistaken technology choice of the state-owned telecommunication provider in the 1990s that still hinders broadband Internet access for many households. We find no evidence that the Internet reduces social capital. For some measures including children’s social activities, we even find significant positive effects.

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One response to “Interesting upcoming Harvard lunchtime talk on Internet & Social Capital

  1. I wasn’t able to listen to this talk, but I tend to hold the view that the Internet creates and reinforces “bonding social capital” (connections across like-minded groups), but it may not be as effective at developing links that “bridge social capital” (across divides of, say, race, ethnicity and religion). I have a website that tries to feature some of these latter models at http://www.modelsofunity.net, but, online tools that focus on this “bridging social capital” seem hard to find overall. In fact, I would posit that people tend to keep themselves in silos on the Internet. And, this can create more social division and distance from “the other.”

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