Communication and Technology   Gaming   Social Media  

Examining Different Viewer Engagement Patterns for Social Capital on Streaming Communities

From sharing video games to sharing one’s hobbies, live streaming is a popular form of social networking unlike any other. Due to its nature that combines broadcast and interpersonal exchanges, live streaming offers a unique opportunity for community building and collective content creation. Twitch, the most popular streaming platform, has two million viewers online at any given time, and YouTube Live has had 14.2 billion streams since January 2019.

With high viewership and high interactivity, live streaming is ripe for building social capital, a network of trust and shared values that can be mobilized for collective actions. But how do different ways of engaging in live streaming affect one’s social capital?

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Associate Professor Yu-Hao Lee and Chien Wen (Tina) Yuan from the National Taiwan Normal University sought to answer this question. The study measured several forms of live-stream engagement: cognitive (watch time), affective (money donated), and behavioral (fan participation). They examined how these different engagement behaviors are linked to factors that make up social capital, such as: volunteerism, trust, norms, identification, and collective efficacy.

Results showed that social capital can be built within streaming communities, but was only associated with affective and behavioral engagement patterns—not cognitive. In other words, passively watching streams may not support the building of social capital. More engagement is required.

Affective engagement in live streams can develop social capital through norms, collective efficacy, and identification, while behavioral engagement develops social capital through norms, collective efficacy, and volunteerism. Finally, social capital in live streaming communities are associated with higher intentions to participate in a collective action. The study shows that streaming communities have potential to be mobilized for collective actions through different mechanisms that build social capital, specifically by affective and behavioral streaming engagement.

The original article, “Examining Different Viewer Engagement Patterns for Social Capital on Streaming Communities,” was published in Social Science Computer Review on Oct. 4, 2022.

 Authors: Chien Wen (Tina) Yuan, Yu-Hao Lee

 The summary was written by Jessica Berube, CJC M.A.M.C. 2021


Posted: January 27, 2023
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