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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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    References 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 & Sabatini, Fabio, 2019. "Civility and trust in social media," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 83-99.
    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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