Bridging Social Capital in Online Communities : Heterogeneity and Social Tolerance of Online Game Players in Japan

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-569
Journal / PublicationHuman Communication Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


This article examines the democratic potential of online communities by investigating the influence of network heterogeneity on social tolerance in an online gaming environment. Online game communities are potential sources of bridging social capital because they tend to be relatively heterogeneous. Causal analyses are conducted using structural equation modeling with survey data collected in a three-wave panel of online game players in Japan. Results show that the heterogeneous composition of online community causally enhances social tolerance toward community members within the online gaming setting. Furthermore, results show that enhanced social tolerance toward online community members is generalized to offline settings. This causal process suggests that online communities provide access to bridging social capital by gathering heterogeneous populations around shared contexts.