The latest issue of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication – http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/ – has a couple of articles which might be useful background when considering the factors behind online engagement – albeit based on USA data:
Every Blog Has Its Day: Politically-interested Internet Users’ Perceptions of Blog Credibility
Abstract: This study employs an online survey to examine U.S. politically-interested Internet users’ perceptions of the credibility of blogs. The article focuses on the influence of blog reliance compared to motivations for visiting blogs in determining blog credibility. The study found that blogs were judged as moderately credible, but as more credible than any mainstream media or online source. Both reliance and motivations predicted blog credibility after controlling for demographics and political variables. Reliance proved a consistently stronger predictor than blog motivations. Also, information-seeking motives predicted credibility better than entertainment ones.
Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites
Abstract: Are there systematic differences between people who use social network sites and those who stay away, despite a familiarity with them? Based on data from a survey administered to a diverse group of young adults, this article looks at the predictors of SNS usage, with particular focus on Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, and Friendster. Findings suggest that use of such sites is not randomly distributed across a group of highly wired users. A person’s gender, race and ethnicity, and parental educational background are all associated with use, but in most cases only when the aggregate concept of social network sites is disaggregated by service. Additionally, people with more experience and autonomy of use are more likely to be users of such sites. Unequal participation based on user background suggests that differential adoption of such services may be contributing to digital inequality.
The second article builds onto and refers to Danah Boyd’s thoughts about the class implications of the choice of social networking site back in June this year. (Danah Boyd is a guest editor of this issue)
Danah’s original essay can still be found here. It was fairly heavily reported by the BBC, the Guardian and suchlike, triggering a stream of comments and feedback. Once she had had time to catch her breath she wrote another essay reflecting on how her thoughts had been (mis)interpreted – available here.