Article Information

VIRAL ALTRUISM OR SOCIAL CONTAGION? COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF TYPES OF PARTICIPATION AND MECHANISMS OF INVOLVING RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN USERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE CHARITABLE CAMPAIGN ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

Stanislav Moiseev a (E-mail: smoiseev@hse.ru)

Inna Deviatko a,b

a National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation

b Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS

Citation: Moiseev S., Deviatko I. (2018) Virusnyy al'truizm ili sotsial'noye zarazheniye? Sravnitel'nyy analiz tipov uchastiya i mekhanizmov vovlecheniya rossiyskikh i ukrainskikh pol'zovateley sotsial'nykh media v blagotvoritel'nuyu kampaniyu Ice Bucket Challenge [Viral altruism or social contagion? Comparative analysis of types of participation and mechanisms of involving Russian and Ukrainian users of social media in the charitable campaign Ice Bucket Challenge]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(4): 154–181 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2018.21.4.7

Abstract. This article is devoted to the study of the viral altruism as a form of prosocial mass activity in social networks. It reveals the diverse nature of this phenomenon, which is driven by the distinct mechanisms of intrinsic altruistic motivation of prosocial action, extrinsic rational motivation, or by social contagion which does not necessarily presuppose an altruistic orientation of social action. Basing on this typology of the mechanisms forms of participation of Russian and Ukrainian Vkontakte users in the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) charity campaign are compared using information about «digital footprints». Various examples of participation are summarized in the form of an analytical typology which reflects the predominant influence of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, or of social contagion processes. The validity of the typology is confirmed by the results of cluster analysis of empirical data. In the discussion of the results, it is emphasized that the «formal» participation of users in the cascade of social contagion could be more correctly defined as an example of mass behavior in the digital environment, rather than the manifestation of viral altruism per se. In addition, this article demonstrates that in the process of analysis of charitable campaign participants’ activities it is necessary to investigate the real directedness of users actions, as well as the socio-political context that can influence on it, rather than only rely on the interpretation, based on the formal rules of the campaign. It is shown that carrying out such an in-depth analysis helps to distinguish users with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation more adequately.

Keywords: viral altruism, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, social contagion, Ice Bucket Challenge, mass behavior.

 

References

Bazhina U.N. (2006) Psikhologo-ekonomicheskaya tipologiya motivov blagotvoritelnosti [Psychological and economic typology of motives for charity]. Izvestiya BGU [BSU News], 6: 16–18 (in Russian).

Benabou R., Tirole J. (2003) Incentives and Prosocial Behavior. American Economic Review, 96(5): 1652-1678.

Bowles S. (2008) Policies Designed for Self-Interested Citizens May Undermine “The Moral Sentiments”: Evidence from Economic Experiments. Science, 320: 1605–1609.

Burgess A., Miller V., Moore S. (2018) Prestige, Performance and Social Pressure in Viral Challenge Memes: Neknomination, the Ice-Bucket Challenge and SmearForSmear as Imitative Encounters. Sociology, 52(5): 1035–1051.

Bykov A.V. (2013) Teoretiko-metodologicheskiye podkhody k izucheniyu altruizma: analiticheskiy obzor [Theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of altruism: an analytical review]. Sotsiologiya: metodologiya. metody. matematicheskoye modelirovaniye (4M) [Sociology: methodology, methods, mathematical modeling (4M)]. 37: 179–207 (in Russian).

Gauntlett D. (2018) Making is Connecting: The social power of creativity, from craft and knitting to digital everything — Second expanded edition. Medford, MA: Polity Press.

Hodas N., Lerman C. (2014) The Simple Rules of Social Contagion. Scientific Reports, 4 (4343): 1–7.

Kobayashi T. (2015) Trend-driven information cascades on random networks. Physical Review E, 92(6): 1–9.

Korneyeva E.I. (2016) Fandrayzing v rossiyskikh nekommercheskikh organizatsiyakh: rezultaty empiricheskogo issledovaniya [Fundraising in Russian non-profit organizations: the results of empirical research]. Monitoring obshchestvennogo mneniya: Ekonomicheskiye i sotsialnyye peremeny [The Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes], 4: 48–66 (in Russian).

Kristofferson K., White K., Peloza J. (2014) The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action. Journal of Consumer Research, 40:1149–1166.

Lacetera N., Macis М., Mele A. (2015) Viral Altruism? Charitable Giving and Social Contagion in Online Networks. Sociological Science, 3: 202–238.

Marsden P. (1998) Memetics & Social Contagion: Two Sides of the Same Coin? The Journal of Memetics, 2(2): 171–185.

Moiseyev S.P. (2016) «Reabilitatsiya» ponyatiya «massa» v sotsial'nykh naukakh: poisk obobshchayushchego opredeleniya [“Rehabilitation” of the concept of “mass” in the social sciences: in search for a generalized definition]. Sotsiologiya: metodologiya, metody, matematicheskoye modelirovaniye (4M) [Sociology: methodology, methods, mathematical modeling (4M)], 42: 61–83 (in Russian).

Piliavin J.A. (2009) Altruism and Helping: The Evolution of a Field: The 2008 Cooley-Mead Presentation. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72(3): 209–225.

Sampson T. (2012) Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Shuvayeva E.I. Petrova N.V. (2015) Motivatsiya i vovlechennost studentov v blagotvoritelnuyu deyatelnost [Motivation and involvement of students in charitable activities]. Vestnik Leningradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta im. A.S. Pushkina [Bulletin of the A.S. Pushkin Leningrad State University], 3: 88–100 (in Russian).

Simpson B. & Willer R. (2015) Beyond Altruism: Sociological Foundations of Cooperation and Prosocial Behavior. Annual Review of Sociology, 41:10.1–10.21.

Thrift N. (2008) Non-Represenrational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect. London: Routledge.

van der Linden S. (2017) The nature of viral altruism and how to make it stick. Nature Human Behaviour, 1(0041): 1–3.

Volodina O.I. (2017) Instrumenty prodvizheniya nekommercheskikh proyektov v seti internet: sovremennyye trendy [Tools for promoting non-commercial projects on the Internet: current trends]. Kommunikologiya: elektronnyy nauchnyy zhurnal [Communicology: electronic scientific journal], 1(2): 92–104 (in Russian).