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Unpacking Social Media’s Role in Resource Provision: Variations across Relational and Communicative Properties


  • Jessica Vitak

    () (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, 4105 Hornbake Building, South Wing, College Park, MD 20742, USA)


New information and communication technologies (ICTs) challenge existing beliefs regarding the exchange of social resources within a network. The present study examines individuals’ perceived access to social, emotional, and instrumental resources by analyzing relational and Facebook-specific characteristics of dyadic relationships. Results suggest that the social and technical affordances of the site—including visibility of content and connections, as well as streamlined processes for interacting with a large audience—may augment existing perceptions of resource access for some ties while providing a major (or sole) outlet to interact and exchange resources with others. Specifically, weaker ties appear to benefit more than strong ties from engagement in directed communication and relationship maintenance strategies, while additional variations were observed across relationship category, dyad composition, and geographic proximity. In summary, these findings provide new evidence for how positive relational gains may be derived from site use.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessica Vitak, 2014. "Unpacking Social Media’s Role in Resource Provision: Variations across Relational and Communicative Properties," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-26, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:4:y:2014:i:4:p:561-586:d:41559

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    More about this item


    social capital; social provisions; social network sites; Facebook; relational closeness; relationship maintenance;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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