Tweeting Alone? An Analysis of Bridging and Bonding Social Capital in Online Networks

Javier Sajuria, Jennifer Vanheerde-hudson, David Hudson, Niheer Dasandi, Yannis Theocharis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we test Putnam’s claim that online interactions are unable to
foster social capital by examining the formation of bridging and bonding social
capital in online networks. Using Burt’s concepts of closure and brokerage
as indicators, we observe networks formed through online interactions
and test them against several theoretical models. We test Putnam’s claim
using Twitter data from three events: the Occupy movement in 2011, the
IF Campaign in 2013, and the Chilean Presidential Election of the same
year. Our results provide the first evidence that online networks are able
to produce the structural features of social capital. In the case of bonding
social capital, online ties are more effective in forming close networks than
theory predicts. However, bridging social capital is observed under certain
conditions, for example, in the presence of organizations and professional
brokers. This latter finding provides additional evidence for the argument
that social capital follows similar patterns online and offline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-738
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Social capital
  • network simulation
  • Social Media
  • closure
  • brokerage


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