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EMAC 2022 Annual

The influence of social media photo-sharing on social capital in mitigating loneliness in older consumers

Published: May 24, 2022


Gabriele Baima, University of Turin - Department of Management; rebecca pera, university of turin; Sarah Quinton


This research responds to the fundamental societal challenges of increased loneliness and an ageing world population through investigating photo-sharing on social media as a means to enhance connectivity with others and thus social capital. The study adopts a two-stage qualitative approach in Italy and Great Britain with older consumers, first conducting four focus groups involving participatory visual research, followed by 16 in-depth interviews. The findings affirm the potential of image-based social media in increasing both bridging and bonding social capital. A further nuanced understanding of social capital includes that social capital bonds can be broken when vulnerability is exposed, and trust is lost. Photo-sharing emerges as transformative in turning an individual experience into a collective one, and through doing so connects older consumers thereby lessening feelings of loneliness. This study extends the scholarship regarding social capital and anchors its relevance to the contemporary phenomena of social media use and older consumers.