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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the personal and social value of tagging systems through social capital theory Jeffrey, Joshua Anthony Phillip Jr.


The purpose of this study was to explore social media usage and to investigate the personal and collective value of social media. Using a case study methodology and a social capital theoretical framework, I examined the personal and social strategies that emerged from three students using del.icio.us and CiteULike over a five-month period. I used a questionnaire, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and digital archival data logs to gather a holistic perspective of how these newcomers used tagging systems as tools that facilitate the creation and maintenance of relationships. This project represented the first time a social capital theoretical framework was used to understand tagging systems behaviour. My findings suggest that people develop personal and social strategies as tagging systems members in order to maintain and build relationships with their real world social ties. According to social capital theory, these actions represent social strategies that are designed to build bridging social capital, which brings people together through social networks that were not similar to each other (e.g. school), or bonding social capital, which reinforce close ties of people with similarities in key aspects (e.g. close friends). As social media continues to emerge as a space for building connections between other members, it is recommended that designers of social media develop future systems that support the creation and maintenance of online and offline relationships.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International