Lauren Frank

Date of Award

Summer 9-3-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 89 pages)


Facebook (Electronic resource), Online social networks -- Political aspects, Social capital (Sociology), Political participation




Recognizing the importance of civic engagement to the health of local communities and the overall success of a democracy, this research sought to better understand the relationship between online media use and civic engagement. Specifically, the constructive potential of the social networking site Facebook was explored using the theoretical framework of communication infrastructure theory (CIT; Ball-Rokeach, Kim, & Matei, 2001). Results of a cross-sectional survey with a national sample of 375 participants indicated that Facebook does hold potential for civic engagement. The two most important findings of the research were that Facebook facilitated connection to neighborhood storytelling and that connection to storytelling was positively associated with civic engagement. As such, results indicated that Facebook holds potential for civic engagement insofar as the site facilitates connection to neighborhood storytelling. Additionally, Facebook was a regular part of participants’ daily routines, a means to maintain social capital, and a forum for occasional civic participation. Cumulatively, these results highlight a number of strengths that citizens and communities can build upon to improve social capital and increase civic engagement.

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