There is a tendency in the literature on local digital media use and neighborhood outcomes to conceptualize Social Network Sites (SNSs) as mere transmission channels, thereby ignoring SNSs’ dynamics and limiting the understanding of their role in neighborhood life. Informed by Communication Infrastructure Theory and social media literature, we propose and test a model to investigate the association between the use of SNSs, appropriated as online neighborhood networks, and neighborhood sense of community. We administered a survey to Flemish online neighborhood network users (n = 590) and found that active localized SNS use brings about an online sense of community and community awareness, which both independently lead to a neighborhood sense of community. Based on these findings, we argue that SNSs, appropriated as online neighborhood networks, function simultaneously as neighborhood hotspots in a neighborhood’s communication action context as well as community awareness media in a neighborhood’s storytelling network.
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Appendix – Used items and their descriptive statistics
Digital Neighborhood Storytelling – Shared Interests
I share information about my neighborhood with the online group.
When I see something online that I think the online group would find interesting, I’ll share it with them.
When I enjoyed something in the neighborhood (an event, a nice spot, a funny happening …), I share it with the online group.
Neighborhood sense of community
I feel like I belong to this neighborhood.
The friendships and associations I have with other people in my neighborhood mean a lot to me.
If the people in my neighborhood were planning something, I’d think of it as something ‘we’ were doing rather than ‘they’ were doing.
I think I agree with most people about what is important in life.
I would be willing to work together with others on something to improve my neighborhood.
Living in this neighborhood gives me a sense of community.
I am mostly aware of important events in my neighborhood.
I am mostly aware of local issues.
I feel familiar with the history of my neighborhood.
I have a pretty good idea about who lives in my neighborhood.
I have a good idea about the common opinions about local issues in my neighborhood.
I know what matters to the neighborhood residents.
Online sense of community
I believe the time spent on the online group is worthwhile.
I value the online group.
What I want is similar to what the other members of this group want.
I mostly agree with the opinions that circulate within this group.
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