Instant Messaging Social Networks: Individual, Relational, and Cultural Characteristics

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Gustavo S. Mesch

Department of Sociology & Anthropology

University of Haifa, Israel

Ilan Talmud

                        Department of Sociology & Anthropology

University of Haifa, Israel

Anabel Quan-Haase 

Faculty of Information & Media Studies

University of Western Ontario, Canada


Abstract

Most research on social media tends to focus on individual or group level characteristics, neglecting to consider the influence of relational and cultural variables. To fill this void, we collected social network data in Israel (N = 492) and Canada (N = 293) to investigate the effect of individual, relational, and cultural variables on the frequency of communication via instant messaging (IM) and the multiplexity of communication topics. We found that geographic distance continues to matter in interpersonal contact in spite of heavy reliance on digital tools for connectivity. Similar patterns of association were discerned in both countries for propinquity, the use of IM, and closeness. We discuss the findings in terms of theories of networked individualism.

Soon to come in Journal of Personal and Social Relationships

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