Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Sociology

Date of Defense

1-4-2009

Graduate Advisor

Chikako Usui, Ph.D.

Committee

Nancy Shields, Ph.D.

Robert Keel, M.A.

George McCall, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study explores the reasons why university students prefer to join or participate frequently in one social network website (SNS) over another. Drawing from previous research into motivations and environmental factors influencing SNS behavior, a theoretical model of SNS selection and frequency of use is constructed and evaluated. Random sampling methods are used to generate a population of students from a midwestern, urban, public university with an enrollment of nearly 16,000. Subjects responded to a questionnaire soliciting information regarding personal characteristics and SNS behaviors, and additional data was extracted from a content analysis of SNS profiles. The results show that attachment, age, and educational capital are the primary factors associated with SNS preference, while the effect of cultural capital is minimal. Limitations and implications are discussed.

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