The Affordances of Social Networking Sites for Relational Maintenance in a Distrustful Society: The Case of Azerbaijan

  • Author:
  • Katy Pearce
  • Publisher: Social Media + Society
  • Date: December 1, 2015
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Katy Pearce in Sage Journals


The Internet and social media afford opportunities for relational maintenance, but most scholarship has focused on relational maintenance in high-trust environments. This study explores relational maintenance online and offline in a distrustful society. In distrustful societies, trust is situated within one’s particularized kin network, and friendships have strategic significance and are characterized by norms of reciprocity. In distrustful societies, relational maintenance behaviors are different from trustful societies and take on greater significance. This preliminary study, based on informant interviews in Azerbaijan, examines both offline relational maintenance and the affordances of social networking sites (SNSs) for relational maintenance in such an environment. SNSs do provide for some relational maintenance behaviors throughsupplementing offline behaviors at a low cost and give some additional benefits like status display, yet SNSs do not replace traditional relational maintenance behaviors in Azerbaijan.