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Against the trend: why Russians prefer a local social networking site over the global leader of the industry
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The proliferation of social networking sites (SNS) over the last 20 years is a techno-social phenomenon of our age. Since it emerged in 2004, Facebook, the most popular social network in the world, steadily outcompeted its rivals in the overwhelming majority of countries. However, there are a few exceptions, Russia being one of them: Vkontakte, country’s local SNS, has remained the most popular site of this kind in Russia.

The aim of this master thesis is to discover what motivates Russian SNS users to prefer a domestic networking site over its global rival Facebook. Uses and gratification theory and social network theory form a theoretical framework of this study and guide the choice of methodology, as well as the process of analysis and discussion. Qualitative methodological approach, and in particular interviews and comparative case study, was applied in this research. Thus, 14 interviewees were recruited and asked about their experiences of Vkontakte and Facebook usage. In addition, the comparative analysis of both sites was conducted in order to establish the differences in tools, features and services which potentially could influence the usage patterns of Russian SNS users.

It was discovered that the difference in a number and quality of tools on Facebook and Vkontakte, primarily video and audio, significantly influence the frequency of usage and time spent on these sites. Moreover, it was established that the networks of Russian users on Vkontakte contain both weak and strong ties, while Facebook networks contain mostly weak ties, which makes global network less interesting and attractive for country’s users. And finally, the study suggests that although both sites have noticeable disadvantages, users tend to think of Vkontakte as a more favorable SNS even in this respect and highlight that their dissatisfaction with some aspects of Facebook usage was greater than that of Vkontakte.

The study provides novel information regarding under-researched topic of SNS usage in Russia, and thus contributes to the existing academic works in the field.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
social networking sites, SNS, Facebook, Vkontakte, Russia
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-225375OAI: diva2:720792
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
Available from: 2014-06-03 Created: 2014-06-02 Last updated: 2014-06-03Bibliographically approved

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