The University of Southampton

Focussing a cultural lens on the growth of trust networks : a Syrian Perspective

Web Science, Social Network Analysis

It has been widespread interest in social network connections between individuals following the transformative advent of the Internet brought about by the implementation of the World Wide Web. Building of much earlier work on degrees of separation, theories which associated trust with networks were also established. The widespread political and social unrest in the middle east which began late in 2010 was dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’, and much social commentary pointed to the role of computer mediated social networks to disseminate information and co-ordinate confrontational activities.

However much of the existing work which has been carried out investigating social networks and trust has come from countries whose cultural traditions might be described as ‘Anglo Saxon’, Western European, or Judaeo Christian. The cultural traditions and current domestic and governmental assumptions of those countries engaged in the Arab Spring are, even at the level of superficial investigation, very different.

This study begins an examination into the nature of trust and methods in which it can be analysed and categorised. It identifies a single middle eastern country, currently experiencing some political turmoil; namely Syria, and examines some of the cultural references and norms which exist in that country. It argues that cues for interaction and clues about real and assumed identity are key factors in establishing online trust, and that such factors may have strong cultural associations.

In the light of that investigation it goes on to propose a programme of future research and investigation which is designed to gather substantive evidence to test to see how culture and practice might affect the creation and growth of trust online.

Primary investigators

Associated research group

  • Web and Internet Science
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