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Benefiting form sharing on social network media: a social-ethnic comparative study in Flanders

Cédric Courtois (UGent) , Anissa All (UGent) , Hadewijch Vanwynsberghe (UGent) and Pieter Verdegem (UGent)
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Abstract
In today’s pervasive media environment, public and private communication has become commonplace in youngsters’ daily practices. Still, we tend to take this form of participation for granted, assuming that the necessary resources are unequivocally equally distributed among the younger population. In this paper we question this assumption, drawing upon literature on the digital divide to critically assess this issue. More specifically, we investigate whether youngsters with divergent social and ethnic background draw upon the same resources to engage in sharing contents on social network media. Inspired by Van Dijk’s (2005) conceptual model on the digital divide, we conceptualize participation on social network media as an issue explained by unequal distributions of access (quality), motivational factors, and skills. Concretely, these three factors are seen as cascading elements, explaining the width of positive experiences derived from this form of online communication. Moreover, we introduce the mediating factor of habit strength into the equation. As practices increasingly become interwoven in the fabric of daily life, explicit reflection on its use tends to vanish. Moreover, we incorporate the influence of social relations into our model. Next, the conceptual model is translated into operational measures, rooted into prior research on technology acceptance, and the Internet in specific. More specifically, a path-model is computed, representing the hypothesized theoretical conceptual relations between the aforementioned components. This model yields an excellent fit on a large and diverse sample of teenagers (N = 775), predominantly gathered in schools, so to avoid a self-selection bias (gathered in Flanders, Belgium). Still, we question whether these relations are equal in magnitude for youngsters with different backgrounds. Based on a latent class analysis, two clusters are empirically derived based on education, financial home situation, and ethnic background. The first class, referred to as relatively underprivileged (52%) mainly consist of respondents who are enrolled in vocational secondary education or dropped out with a primary degree or less, have a higher tendency of not wanting to disclose their financial situation, and have high chances (i.e. 63%) of having parents who are both born abroad. The second class, labelled relatively privileged (48%), is predominantly in general secondary education, has over 90 per cent chance of reporting to experience a comfortable to reasonable financial situation at home, and has high chances of having parents that are both born in Belgium (i.e. 66%). Comparisons between these two subsamples indicate that the relatively underprivileged youngsters have significantly higher mean values concerning outcome beliefs, habit strength, and experiencing social influence, while they also report a higher degree of positive outcomes. Still, their level of perceived access quality is somewhat lower, although there are no differences in reported skills and actual sharing of items on social network platforms. Multi-sample path analysis of the operational model for both samples reveals that in terms of total effects, access quality is a stronger explanatory factor of positive outcomes for the relatively underprivileged youngsters. Also, the total effect of habit on the latter variable is substantially higher. While there is no difference for what concerns social influence, we do notice that the total effects of outcome beliefs and skills are stronger for the relatively privileged youngsters. This suggests that the underprivileged youngsters display a less deliberate and more routinized sharing behaviour, in which the issue of access context plays a substantial role. The privileged respondents in contrast, displaying a stronger effect of outcome beliefs, demonstrate a more reflexive substrate of their social network media engagement. Further analysis points out that for the relatively underprivileged, there are stronger effects of social influence on the level of social media skills and outcome beliefs, which reveals that normativity predominantly exercises an indirect effect on positive outcomes. In case of the privileged youngsters, skill level has a stronger effect on both habit and actual sharing behaviour. This suggests that differential skills in this sample, has a more substantial contribution to sharing frequency, and consequently building habit. Still, in neither sample, there is an effect of actual sharing behaviour on outcome experience, revealing that quantity does not necessarily reflect quality. In sum, there are apparent differences between socio-ethnic groups in the substrate of benefiting from the opportunities of social network media, in terms of social participation through sharing items. Our findings suggest that for the underprivileged, sharing on social media is much more a part of routine. As such, social media host the potential of social inclusion initiatives of various kinds.

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Chicago
Courtois, Cédric, Anissa All, Hadewijch Vanwynsberghe, and Pieter Verdegem. 2013. “Benefiting Form Sharing on Social Network Media: a Social-ethnic Comparative Study in Flanders.” In Youth 2.0, Abstracts.
APA
Courtois, C., All, A., Vanwynsberghe, H., & Verdegem, P. (2013). Benefiting form sharing on social network media: a social-ethnic comparative study in Flanders. Youth 2.0, Abstracts. Presented at the Youth 2.0.
Vancouver
1.
Courtois C, All A, Vanwynsberghe H, Verdegem P. Benefiting form sharing on social network media: a social-ethnic comparative study in Flanders. Youth 2.0, Abstracts. 2013.
MLA
Courtois, Cédric, Anissa All, Hadewijch Vanwynsberghe, et al. “Benefiting Form Sharing on Social Network Media: a Social-ethnic Comparative Study in Flanders.” Youth 2.0, Abstracts. 2013. Print.
@inproceedings{4106305,
  abstract     = {In today{\textquoteright}s pervasive media environment, public and private communication has become commonplace in youngsters{\textquoteright} daily practices. Still, we tend to take this form of participation for granted, assuming that the necessary resources are unequivocally equally distributed among the younger population. In this paper we question this assumption, drawing upon literature on the digital divide to critically assess this issue. More specifically, we investigate whether youngsters with divergent social and ethnic background draw upon the same resources to engage in sharing contents on social network media. Inspired by Van Dijk{\textquoteright}s (2005) conceptual model on the digital divide, we conceptualize participation on social network media as an issue explained by unequal distributions of access (quality), motivational factors, and skills. Concretely, these three factors are seen as cascading elements, explaining the width of positive experiences derived from this form of online communication. Moreover, we introduce the mediating factor of habit strength into the equation. As practices increasingly become interwoven in the fabric of daily life, explicit reflection on its use tends to vanish. Moreover, we incorporate the influence of social relations into our model. Next, the conceptual model is translated into operational measures, rooted into prior research on technology acceptance, and the Internet in specific. More specifically, a path-model is computed, representing the hypothesized theoretical conceptual relations between the aforementioned components. This model yields an excellent fit on a large and diverse sample of teenagers (N = 775), predominantly gathered in schools, so to avoid a self-selection bias (gathered in Flanders, Belgium). Still, we question whether these relations are equal in magnitude for youngsters with different backgrounds. Based on a latent class analysis, two clusters are empirically derived based on education, financial home situation, and ethnic background. The first class, referred to as relatively underprivileged (52\%) mainly consist of respondents who are enrolled in vocational secondary education or dropped out with a primary degree or less, have a higher tendency of not wanting to disclose their financial situation, and have high chances (i.e. 63\%) of having parents who are both born abroad. The second class, labelled relatively privileged (48\%), is predominantly in general secondary education, has over 90 per cent chance of reporting to experience a comfortable to reasonable financial situation at home, and has high chances of having parents that are both born in Belgium (i.e. 66\%). Comparisons between these two subsamples indicate that the relatively underprivileged youngsters have significantly higher mean values concerning outcome beliefs, habit strength, and experiencing social influence, while they also report a higher degree of positive outcomes. Still, their level of perceived access quality is somewhat lower, although there are no differences in reported skills and actual sharing of items on social network platforms. Multi-sample path analysis of the operational model for both samples reveals that in terms of total effects, access quality is a stronger explanatory factor of positive outcomes for the relatively underprivileged youngsters. Also, the total effect of habit on the latter variable is substantially higher. While there is no difference for what concerns social influence, we do notice that the total effects of outcome beliefs and skills are stronger for the relatively privileged youngsters. This suggests that the underprivileged youngsters display a less deliberate and more routinized sharing behaviour, in which the issue of access context plays a substantial role. The privileged respondents in contrast, displaying a stronger effect of outcome beliefs, demonstrate a more reflexive substrate of their social network media engagement. Further analysis points out that for the relatively underprivileged, there are stronger effects of social influence on the level of social media skills and outcome beliefs, which reveals that normativity predominantly exercises an indirect effect on positive outcomes. In case of the privileged youngsters, skill level has a stronger effect on both habit and actual sharing behaviour. This suggests that differential skills in this sample, has a more substantial contribution to sharing frequency, and consequently building habit. Still, in neither sample, there is an effect of actual sharing behaviour on outcome experience, revealing that quantity does not necessarily reflect quality. In sum, there are apparent differences between socio-ethnic groups in the substrate of benefiting from the opportunities of social network media, in terms of social participation through sharing items. Our findings suggest that for the underprivileged, sharing on social media is much more a part of routine. As such, social media host the potential of social inclusion initiatives of various kinds.},
  author       = {Courtois, C{\'e}dric and All, Anissa and Vanwynsberghe, Hadewijch and Verdegem, Pieter},
  booktitle    = {Youth 2.0, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Antwerp, Belgium},
  title        = {Benefiting form sharing on social network media: a social-ethnic comparative study in Flanders},
  year         = {2013},
}