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Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach

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  • Angelo Antoci
  • Fabio Sabatini

Abstract

There is growing evidence that face-to-face interaction is declining in many countries, exacerbating the phenomenon of social isolation. On the other hand, social interaction through online networking sites is steeply rising. To analyze these societal dynamics, we have built an evolutionary game model in which agents can choose between three strategies of social participation: 1) interaction via both online social networks and face-to-face encounters; 2) interaction by exclusive means of face-to-face encounters; 3) opting out from both forms of participation in pursuit of social isolation. We illustrate the dynamics of interaction among these three types of agent that the model predicts, in light of the empirical evidence provided by previous literature. We then assess their welfare implications. We show that when online interaction is less gratifying than offline encounters, the dynamics of agents’ rational choices of interaction will lead to the extinction of the sub-population of online networks users, thereby making Facebook and similar platforms disappear in the long run. Furthermore, we show that the higher the propensity for discrimination of those who interact via online social networks and via face-to-face encounters (i.e., their preference for the interaction with agents of their same type), the greater the probability will be that they all will end up choosing social isolation in the long run, making society fall into a “social poverty trap”.

Suggested Citation

  • Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini, 2018. "Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2018/01, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  • Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2018_01
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    File URL: http://www.eeri.eu/documents/wp/EERI_RP_2018_01.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2238-2265, July.
    2. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini & Mauro Sodini, 2014. "Bowling alone but tweeting together: the evolution of human interaction in the social networking era," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1911-1927, July.
    3. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Falck, Oliver & Woessmann, Ludger, 2014. "Surfing alone? The internet and social capital: Evidence from an unforeseeable technological mistake," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 73-89.
    4. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2019. "Online Social Networks and Trust," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 229-260, February.
    5. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    6. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    7. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2008. "Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Department of Economics University of Siena 540, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    8. Stefano Bartolini & Francesco Sarracino, 2011. "Happy for How Long? How Social Capital and GDP relate to Happiness over Time," Department of Economics University of Siena 621, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    9. Antoci, Angelo & Delfino, Alexia & Paglieri, Fabio & Panebianco, Fabrizio & Sabatini, Fabio, 2016. "Civility vs. incivility in online social interactions: an evolutionary approach," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68800, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    25. repec:cai:reidbu:rei_158_0101 is not listed on IDEAS
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    1. Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2018-04-03 14:04:42

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    Cited by:

    1. Antoci, Angelo & Bonelli, Laura & Paglieri, Fabio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Sabatini, Fabio, 2018. "Civility and Trust in Social Media," IZA Discussion Papers 11290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Raffaella Coppier & Fabio Sabatini & Mauro Sodini, 2018. "Social capital, human capital and fertility," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2018/04, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social networks; segregation; dynamics of social interaction; social media; social networking sites.;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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