‘I’ll just text you’: Is face-to-face social contact declining in a mediated world?
The Journal of Sociology, 2016
Roger Patulny and Claire Seaman
The rise in the network society might lead to a decline in face-to-face contact as people substitute it with more mediated forms, or an increase in both face-to-face and mediated contact as complements, with unknown consequences for social support. This article examines trends in social contact, mediated contact (phone, online, etc.), and social support in 2002, 2006 and 2010, using aggregated ABS General Social Survey data. Results show an aggregate decline in face-to-face contact and rise in mediated contact in Australia between 2002 and 2010, but no aggregate decline in perceived social support, and a strong positive individual-level association between both forms of contact and social support. There are, however, signs of an emerging class-based digital divide, with low-income older men and less educated respondents reporting lower levels of mediated contact and social support by 2010.