Social inclusion has become a pressing issue for organizations wishing to close the inequality and disparity gaps associated with underrepresented or disadvantaged groups. The challenge is becoming particularly critical in higher education institutions suffering from low retention rates and low graduation rates among first-generation college students (FGCS). In response to the challenges imposed by the notion of social inclusion, some universities and colleges are exploring the use of social networking technologies such as social media (SM) in ways that can impact social inclusion. In order to improve the understanding of how social networking technology affects the social inclusion of FGCS, we conducted a case study in a public, Hispanic-serving institution in the United States. We used technology affordance theory to reveal various affordances actualized by FGCS and various outcomes resulting from those affordances. To explain how the actualization of different strands of affordance produces certain outcomes, our analysis of 102 FGCS’ narratives followed an established five-step framework for identifying generative mechanisms, revealing three SM user types—Community Builders, Scholars, and Information Seekers—and four actualized affordances, namely interconnection, inspiration, insightfulness, and intense comfort, which are conceptualized into three generative mechanisms: identity booster, academic growth, and self-care. Our results provide insights into SM usage for social inclusion outcomes. By revealing how technology use can promote social engagement and mitigate exclusion experienced by FGCS, this study contributes to the broad social inclusion research on technology and disadvantaged communities.
Gonzalez, Ester and Deng, Xuefei (Nancy)
"Social Inclusion: The Use of Social Media and the Impact on First-Generation College Students,"
Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 24(5), 1313-1333.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais/vol24/iss5/5
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