social networks

Yossef, Arie & Gustavo S. Mesch: The Spatial and Social Network Dimensions of Mobile Communication

Forthcoming, Communication Research 

A Test of the Social Stratification and Social Diversification Hypotheses



Studies have shown that ethnic segregation is conducive to social segregation. With the advent of information and communication technologies, mobile communication can support non-local social interactions and reconfigure the network composition of ethnic groups. This study focused on the similarities and differences between ethno-national groups in the structure of their cell phone communications. Data for this study includes a sample of 9,099 business customers’ mobile phone calls from an  Israeli mobile operator and tested two theoretical explanations. The social stratification approach predicts that mobile communication will reflect the patterns of spatial and social stratification that exist in society. On the other hand, the social diversification hypothesis expects that residentially and socially segregated minority groups will take advantage of mobile communication to diversify their social contacts and to engage in mobile communications with non-local and out-group ties. The findings suggest that in the information society both structural conditions (the stratification approach) and social incentives (the diversification approach) are relevant for the understanding of inter-ethnic mobile communication and structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. Nevertheless, the Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members.

The Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members. Yet, structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. The theoretical implications of the findings for inter-group mobile communication are discussed.

Keywords: mobile communication, ethnic social segregation, minority status and ICT, network diversification

Hagit Sasson, Gustavo Mesch. Parental Mediation, Peer Norms and Risky Online Behavior. Computers in Human Behavior 33 (2014) 32–38

Parental mediation, peer norms and risky online behavior among adolescents



Previous studies have shown that parental mediation of adolescents online is associated with the latter’s participation in risky behavior online and being a victim of online harassment and bullying.  However, there is a paucity of studies investigating the differential contribution of peers’ norms and parental mediation on adolescents’ engagement in risky online behavior. To fill this gap in the literature, we collected data from a representative sample of 495 sixth to eleventh grade students in a large city in Israel. Participants responded to an online survey measuring three types of parental mediation: active guidance, restrictive supervision and non-intervention.  We measured risky behavior online with items indicating the frequency of posting personal details, sending an insulting massage and meeting face-to-face with a stranger met online. In addition, respondents reported their perceptions about their peers’ attitudes toward various risky online behaviors. Multivariate findings show that after controlling for age, gender, time spent online and online activities, only restrictive parental supervision had a significant effect. However, such supervision actually increased adolescents’ risky behavior online. Perceptions that one’s peers approve of such behavior reduced the effect of restrictive parental supervision, leading to increased risky actions online. The results emphasize the importance of peer networks in youngsters’ engagement in risky online activities.

New Paper:Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis


Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Forthcoming; Social Science and Medicine, 

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa,

Rita Mano, Department of Human Services, University of Haifa,

Yeudit Tsamir, Department of Evaluation & Research, Maccabi Health Services,

Group differences in the search of health information were investigated, to test the
diversification hypothesis that argues that disadvantaged groups in society will be
more likely to use the Internet and computer mediated communication to access
health information to compensate for their lack of social capital. Data were gathered
from a sample of Internet users representative of the percentage of minorities in the
general population in Israel (n=1371). The results provide partial support for the
hypothesis, indicating that in multicultural societies disadvantaged groups show
greater motivation to use the Internet to access medical information than the majority
group. We interpreted our findings as suggesting that minority groups that do not
have access to specialized networks use the Internet to overcome their lack of access
to specialized information. Implications of the finding are discussed

Mesch, GS & Talmud, I. (in Press) Ethnic Differences in Internet Access

Ethnic Differences in Internet Access: The Role of Occupation and Exposure

 Gustavo Mesch & Ilan Talmud (In press). Information, Communication & Society

Internet adoption expanded rapidly in recent years and its use is been associated with the formation of social networks, the accumulation of social capital and a wage premium. Thus, lack of Internet access might reflect past social inequalities and lead to its amplification. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the sources of ethnic differential access to the Internet. The central assumption is that in deeply divided societies, where there is a partial, but significant, overlap between ethnicity and the occupational structure, disadvantaged minorities lack digital access, as they are concentrated in occupations that are not exposed to computers and the Internet. The hypotheses were tested with a representative sample of the Israeli population, a deeply divided society according to ethnic lines. The findings indicate that Arab Israelis are less likely to have access to the Internet because they are concentrated in blue-collar occupations that are not exposed at work to computers and the Internet. Furthermore, lack of exposure foments the development of negative attitudes to technology that presumably defer them from adopting the Internet. The implications of the findings for the replication of digital inequalities in society are discussed.

An earlier version of the study can be downloaded at

Minority status and the use of CMC A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Taking advantage of Israel’s multi-ethnic society, divided along ethnic and immigrant lines, I tested the diversification hypothesis with a large sample of Internet users that resemble the country’s population of Internet users. According to the diversification hypothesis, in socially segregated societies disadvantaged groups have deficits in social capital, particularly bridging social capital. Their use of channels of online communication will be motivated by an attempt to compensate for their disadvantage, and will direct the use of IT to expand their occupational and business ties. From this argument two hypothesis were derived. First, minority and immigrants will be more likely to choose the use of the IT best suited to this task. The findings of the study mostly support this hypothesis. Controlling for socio-demographic and minority status, it was found that people who are motivated to use the Internet to expand business and professional contacts are more likely to use Chat rooms and weblogs. At the same time those motivated to use the Internet to maintain ties with families and friends are more likely to use social networking sites. This finding indicates that each IT application is perceived by users to be suited to a different task.As for the specific hypothesis that minorities and immigrants will be more likely than Israeli Jews to use chat rooms and weblogs to expand their social ties, the results  are mixed. Regarding chat rooms, there is only support for immigrants being more likely than Arab Israelis to use chat rooms. Regarding weblogs, the latter proved more likely to use them than immigrants and Israeli Jews. The three groups did not differ from their use of social networking sites.

Second, a more direct test of the diversification hypothesis was conducted. The hypothesis that Arab Israelis and Immigrants have different motivations for the use of IT was tested by means of OLS regression multivariate analysis. The findings here indicated that the main difference was between Israeli Jews and Immigrants on the one hand and Arab Israelis on the other. Immigrants and Israeli Jews proved more likely than Arab Israelis to use IT for maintaining family ties and to sustaining ties with existing friends. At the same time Arab Israelis were shown as more likely to use IT to make new contacts and to expand their business contacts.

Taking the results together the strongest support of the diversification hypothesis seems to apply to the Arab Israeli population than to the immigrants. This difference might be explained through the differences existing between the two groups in society. As shown in the descriptive analysis, the Arab population of Israel is more disadvantaged in human capital than the immigrant population. Furthermore, the Arab population, perceived as part of the Arab world with which Israel is in a constant state of war, faces more discrimination than the new immigrants. This difference in social standing might be reflected in the more consistent pattern of motivations and usage by the Arab population than by the immigrant groups.

Is online trust and trust in social institutions associated with online disclosure of identifiable personal information online?

Is online trust and trust in social institutions associated with online disclosure of identifiable personal information  online?

By Gustavo S. Mesch

In recent years there is an increase in public concern regarding privacy and privacy related issues . The Internet has changed the way in which user’s information is gathered, stored and exchanged. The growth in Internet deployment and use, and the creation of cost-effective, large-volume information-storage devices have made storing, merging, analyzing and using digital  information a convenient option for governmental and commercial organizations alike . Furthermore, some Internet users are disclosing and making available personal and identifiable information making it available for search, analysis, distribution and use. The distribution and potential abuse of this information can create serious repercussions for many Internet users, which may not be immediately noticeable and whose source may be hard to locate.

Disclosing identifiable information is linked to the concept of trust. Trust refers to a “general expectancy held by an individual that the word, promise, oral or written statement of another individual or group can be relied upon . In other words is a belief that in general individuals and groups can be trusted . Trust ameliorates the perceived risks of disclosing identifiable information ).

Online trust (e.g. trust in web sites, online news, social networking sites providers) has been extensively studied . From this studies we learned that the formation of online trust is a difficult process but when it is created it serves to mitigate the perceptions of risk, uncertainty and vulnerability that are associated with the disclosure of personal and identifiable information. Yet, one important limitation of these studies is that have not compared online and face to face(ftf) trust. In other words, we do not know if trust in individuals and social institutions are associated with online trust and if there is a differential effect of trust in individuals, social institutions and online trust on the disclosure of identifiable information. The purpose of this study was to fill this gap in the literature and to investigate factors associated with the disclosure of identifiable information. In doing this, the association of various forms of trust and perception of risks on the disclosure of identifiable information was investigated.

Main findings:

* Participants: A sample of Internet users (n=1692)

* Sample description

On average the respondents were 51.49 years old  and 58 percent were women and 42 percent men. As to education, 37.4 percent had a partial or completed high school education, 27 percent had completed a technical degree, 24 percent had completed college and 12 percent graduate school.

It was found that 27.7 percent had posted comments and information online using their real names, 31.4 percent had posted online using a screename that others can identify and 11.3 percent had posted comments online anonymously.

Regarding trust, 39 percent of the sample expressed a positive response on the item that measured generalized trust. The average trust in social institutions was higher (M=4.66, SD=1.60) than trust online (M=3.47, SD=1.57) that were both measured in a scale of 1 to 10.

*Attitudes to online privacy, it was found that 24.6 percent of the sample express concern over the amount of information that is available on them online and 53 percent agree with the statement that they are concerned that people think is normal to search for information about others online.

* Is trust offline associated with trust online?

The correlation of general trust and online trust is positive and statistically significant (r=.18 p<.01) and there is a medium size and statistically significant correlation between online trust and trust in social institutions (r=.42, p<.01). At the same time, the measure of general trust in people was associated with trust in institutions (r=.22 p<.01).

* Which trust is associated with disclosure of identifiable information online?

Trust in individuals is not associated with posting identifiable information online or with posting using a screename or anonymously. In addition, trust in social institutions was also found not statistically significant as a predictor of the likelihood to posting information with identifiable name, using a screname or anonymously.

Online trust has a positive effect on the likelihood of posting information online using an identifiable name.

Preliminary conclusions:

Trust online and trust offline are not completely separate entities. Online trust is affected by our trust in individuals and social institutions.

Yet, trust online has also other sources beyond offline trust that need to be identified.

Trust online, and not trust offline is a predictor of our online behavior. Similar to the results of the previous study on the effect of online and offline norms on online behavior, it appears that in the online environment there are emergent norms and trust that can only be partially accounted by offline socialization.

More will come when I finish writing the paper.

SOCIOLOGICAL FOCUS May 2010 Table of Contents

Quarterly Journal of the
North Central Sociological Association

Volume 43 May 2010          Editor: Gustavo S. Mesch

Table of Contents, May 2010

The Organizational Practice of Gendered Employment: Disparate Impact and
Gender Segregation in the Japanese Entry-Level Labor Market
Kayo Fujimoto

Explaining the Gender Gap in Professors’ Intentions to Leave
Vicki L. Dryfhout and Sarah Beth Estes

Diversity, Macrosociology, and Religious Belonging: Using Mixed-Level Models in Examining Spatial Variation and the Closed Community Thesis
Jeremy R. Porter

Identity Consequences of Religious Changing: Effects of Motivation for
Change on Identity Outcomes
Robert M. Carrothers

Gauging and Debunking the Effects of ICTs: The third annual special issue of the iCS/communication and information technologies section of the American Sociological Association

Information, Communication & Society,

Volume 13 Issue 4 2010

Gustavo S. Mesch & Shanyang Zhao, special issue Editors

Editorial Comment
Gauging and debunking the effects of ICTs

Gustavo S. Mesch; Shanyang Zhao
Pages 467 – 469

Making sense of emerging phenomena and rethinking existing concepts

Pablo Javier Boczkowski
Pages 470 – 484

Noelle Chesley
Pages 485 – 514

Eszter Hargittai; Yu-li Patrick Hsieh
Pages 515 – 536

Social intelligence and loafing in information pools

Coye Cheshire; Judd Antin
Pages 537 – 555

Gina Neff; Brittany Fiore-Silfvast; Carrie Sturts Dossick
Pages 556 – 573

Between “digital divides” and the “truly disadvantaged”

“Digital divide” is a concept in use to denote differences in

1. Access

2. Use

3. Skills

between groups of the population. The concept has being coined out of the recognition that access, use and Internet skills provide advantages that are required in the information age. Information is becoming more and more digitalized, communications are being sustained through internet platforms and the ones that are at disadvantage in access, use and lack skills are deprivated from this resources.

In recent years, less attention is being paid to inequality in access and more to inequalities in skills and use. Yet, in this post I want to warn from making methodological and thus, social policy mistakes.

1. there is still a digital divide in access. In most western countries around a quarter of the population do not have access.

2. Access is not randomly distributed. It is much higher among disadvantaged minority groups. For example, access is lower for African-Americans and Mexican-Americans in the use, is lower for the Turkish in Germany,  is lower for the Arabs in Israel.

3. Use is also not randomly distributed. When comparing within a minority group between the ones with access and the ones without access, the results are likely to be that the average education and income of members of minority groups with access is higher and similar to the level of the majority of the population while the ones without access are by far the less educated within the ethnic group.

4. This result is important. Why? because indicated an amplification of the existing inequalities in society. The educated and well off members of the minority groups are getting ahead (nothing wrong with this, the other way around). But, the disadvantaged members of the minority are not only staying behind but becoming segregated not only from the members of the majority but also from the members of their own group.

The remainds to me the idea of Julius Wilson, a professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago that wrote a book indicating that equal opportunity provided opportunities for the members of the African American middle class to residentially and socially separate themselves from the Black underclass that become more and more disadvantaged.

I am suggesting than when conducting research on Internet users to be aware of the sample selection bias of the minority group and be carefull to conclude that in Facebook there is racial integration. This post is inspired by some findings that I am getting in analyzing data on digital divide and on the social inequality in access to health information

CfP: Special Issue Sociological Focus on Social Networks

Call for Papers
Network Models of Economic Embeddedness
A Special Issue of Sociological Focus
Sociological Focus invites papers that directly contribute to the
understanding of social networks and their role in the economy.
 Papers are particularly encouraged in the following topical areas:
•	Network analysis of economic policy and regulation,
•	Social networks and financial markets,
•	Dynamic analysis of economic and business networks
•	Co-evolution of business actors and relational patterns
•	Social networks and venture capital investments,
•	Social networks and corporate governance,
•	Social networks and tacit knowledge creation, maintenance, and transfer,
•	Economic and sociological accounts of the network economy,
•	Interlocking directors and business elite networks,
•	Social capital and economic performance,
•	Network models of industrial and competitive analysis
•	Virtual and online organizations
For further information about this special issue, please contact the guest
Ilan Talmud, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer
Department of Sociology and Anthropology,
University of Haifa

All manuscripts will be peer reviewed and in accordance to the journal
 Submit complete manuscripts to Sociological Focus,
The deadline for submission of completed papers is June 31, 2010.