The emergence of a public good through online social capital activation

Demangeot, Catherine and Sankaran, Kizhekepat (2012) The emergence of a public good through online social capital activation. In: ANZMAC Conference, 2012-12-03 - 2012-12-05.

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This paper examines how consumers activate online social capital, characterizes the resources which they elicit, and considers of the resulting good’s properties. Content analysis of the initial posts of 975 publicly available threads of an online community reveals six forms of activation, based on whether the activator seeks convergent or divergent responses; and seeks factual information or subjective viewpoints, or mobilizes action. The findings suggest that the network is used in three ways: to (1) source a ‘rare’ resource possessed by at least one member, (2) generate a form of consensus among several members, or (3) combine the divergent resources possessed by different members into a ‘knowledge or action bank’. Hence, the network may be used in a search for ‘unity’ or ‘additively’. An emergent, public good develops in the process. Of particular value for a public good is the unfolding richness that comes from the diversity of resources.