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Using Theoretical Frameworks from the Social Sciences to Understand and Explain Behaviour in Social Computing

Using Theoretical Frameworks from the Social Sciences to Understand and Explain Behaviour in Social Computing
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Author(s): Jacqui Taylor (Bournemouth University, UK)
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 18
Source title: Social Computing Theory and Practice: Interdisciplinary Approaches
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Panagiota Papadopoulou (University of Athens, Greece), Panagiotis Kanellis (University of Athens, Greece) and Drakoulis Martakos (University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-904-6.ch003



Research over the past 15 years has examined how the Internet is being used to support communication and social interaction across a variety of groups and communities. However, much of this research has been exploratory, rather than explanatory. It is argued here that approaches from the social sciences offer established methods and frameworks within which the psychological and social impacts of computing can be addressed. In discussing various theories, the chapter highlights one problem—that individual theories have tended to be used to explain a single aspect of human behaviour. There is a need to think more holistically and search for a theoretical approach that can explain intrapersonal processes (e.g. cognition and emotion) as well as interpersonal behaviour within social computing. A number of theoretical frameworks from the social sciences (e.g. social identity theory and social capital theory) will be discussed as potentially being able to explain psychological processes at all levels for users of social computing applications. In summary, the objectives of this chapter are to discuss current approaches used to explain the way people interact in social computing contexts, identify shortcomings with these and to highlight approaches that can address these shortcomings.

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