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Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 59–82 | Cite as

Can Social Media Use Produce Enduring Social Ties? Affordances and the Case of Katrina Bloggers

  • Stephen F. Ostertag
  • David G. Ortiz
Article

Abstract

Can previously unacquainted, grieving individuals who use social media to organize and participate in decentralized mobilizations build strong, lasting social ties? If so, how? What is it about particular social media technologies and platforms that might explain the strength and longevity of their social ties? Drawing on a case study of New Orleans bloggers who took part in a variety of contentious and non-contentious mobilizations after hurricane Katrina, we find that people who mobilize through social media like blogs can form strong and lasting social ties. We argue that this is partly because of the types of communication and interaction that blogs afford. We identify two types of affordances, mechanical and cultural, as distinct qualities of social media like blogs, and illustrate how they enable the building of strong, digitally mediated social ties among grieving people.

Keywords

Blogs Social media Social ties Affordances Mobilization Emotions Moralities 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank David Smilde and the anonymous reviewers who provided thoughtful comments for improving our original manuscript. We would also like to thank several bright and hard working students from Tulane University who helped code blog content data. In alphabetical order they are Samantha Bosalavage, Anna Chang, Amelia Esenstad, Clare Kane, Sarah Sanne, Jessica Schnetz, Becky Schweig, Barbara Seeley, and Emily Strider. Each contributed in important and helpful ways throughout the history of our Karina Blogging project. Finally, we would like to thank Tulane University’s Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) and a Monroe Fellowship from the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South for providing important financial support to conduct this research, and the International Communication Association’s James W. Carey (2010) award for funding much of the early data collection.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrusesUSA

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