Media Capital; The State without a Chief:
A New Understanding of the Role of Bridging Social Capital in the Process of Social Changes
This paper undertakes a closer examination of the concept of social capital and its three components: the social networks, trust, and reciprocity. Some scholars claim that formal and informal social networks are important for civic action. Based on the assumption that social media rests a proper environment for bridging ties in collective societies. This paper claims that bridging social capital generated from interactions throughout social media has an equal importance of face-to-face interpersonal social capital in shaping individuals’ choice of participating in collective action. However, being a witness of two different cases in reality arises a puzzle whether social media can influence the formation and maintenance of social capital to stimulate civic engagement in a collective society that classified as an autocratic and conservative society such as Saudi Arabia.
This paper discusses how social media played a significant role in directing a meaningful transformation of people’s civic participation in Saudi Arabia. More specifically, through documentary materials, I subsidize the localized and grounded evidence of the capability of social media in a collective society to act as a tool of social changes by adhesive the bridging social capital through generating a “public sphere” where the public can freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. In this context of this paper, I attempt to outline the significance of utilizing social media as a tool of empowerment that creates the power of popular, which promotes a continuous tension on the government to change their policies to promote serious and timely social reforms.