Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social.
1 of 19
Hargittai, E. (2007). Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites.
(1), article 14.
Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of
Social Network Sites
Communication Studies and Sociology
Go to a section in the article:
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.
Social network sites (SNSs) have become some of the most popular online destinations in recent years
(comScore, 2007a, 2007b). Not surprisingly, this level of user attraction has been accompanied by much
coverage in the popular press, including speculations about the potential gains and harms stemming from the
use of SNS services (Hempel, 2005; Magid, 2006; Stafford, 2006). Academic researchers have started
studying the use of SNSs, with questions ranging from their role in identity construction and expression (boyd
concerns about privacy (e.g., Gross & Acquisti, 2005; Hodge, 2006). While these areas of inquiry are all
important and worthy of exploration, a significant antecedent question has been largely ignored: Are there
systematic differences between who is and who is not a SNS user, and are people equally likely to join the
various types of services that exist? This article sets out to address this question.
A significant challenge for studies trying to answer questions about who is and is not using SNSs is that the
samples on which they are based (e.g., Ellison et al., 2007) typically include such a small number of
non-users that there is little variance present to explain differentiated basic adoption of the services. On the
rare occasions when data have been available on non-users in addition to users, the focus of the studies has
been elsewhere. For example, Pasek, More, and Romer (2007) have disaggregated data by site and variance