Effect of the information use environment on social capital in a socio-religious community in Singapore
Masturah Binte Abdul Aziz
Date of Issue2016
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This study aims to explore the relationship between the information use environment (IUE) and social capital of a socio-religious community in Singapore. The IUE framework is defined by Taylor (1991) as the set of elements which affect the availability of, access to and use of information by a group. Social capital is one of the major constituents of social cohesion (Berger-Schmidt, 2002) and has received much interest in the research field, especially in community studies. In the information science field, social capital is becoming an important consideration and an emergent research front in information behaviour studies (Fisher, Erdelez, and McKechnie, 2005). This is particularly relevant in the context of socio-religious institutions like mosques and churches, which can be identified as information producing institutions (Lievrouw, 2000) and where strong social capital is needed to build cohesiveness and generate productive output within the community (Uslaner, 2012). The hypothesis is that a strong IUE is a significant enabler in fostering social capital within a socio-religious community in an information society such as Singapore. Survey research was used, with constructs drawn from the IUE framework, and social capital indicators. Data was collected through purposive sampling from three mosques in Singapore and 210 participants respectively. Descriptive statistics and regression analysis were used to study the interactive effects between the IUE and social capital. Findings showed that information practices and uses of information interact with each other to influence social capital. Information use for civic engagement was found to be the overall significant predictor of social capital, as well as the information retrieval system of the mosque and system-user interactions. However, differences in information practices attributed to the digital divide in the mosque community, as well as information availability from the mosque may negatively affect social capital. Implications from the findings are discussed in the context of how the elements of the IUE can be channelled to build social capital for social- or community-based organizations, as well as further efforts into more in-depth research in this promising area of social capital in information behaviour studies.
DRNTU::Library and information science
Nanyang Technological University