A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of TV Programs and Satellite Channels on Students' Social Capital



Social capital and its major components and dimensions are related to social values, norms, institutions, and performances of activists and its improvement depends on factors that can lead to the development and expansion of social trust, participation, and unity. The development and spread of social perspectives, values, and norms can create social constructs that lead to social capital and in that way cause the improvement and development in any society. One of these ways is the mass media and how to make use of them. Some scholars believe that together with the spread of communication technologies and their use in Iran, the awareness and general knowledge of the youth has increased rapidly and has led to a cultural development and consequently to the increase of the social capital. Some others have pointed to the reduction of social interactions among the youth and the flow of information in a society being one-way and consider them as the cause of reduction in the social unity within any society. Some sociologists consider mass media as the cause of a permanent social trust (Coleman, 1999). Others believe that it is a tool to dominate masses culturally through turning it into a cultural industry (Horkheimer & Adorno, 2002 Ritzer, 1996). Horkheimer and Adorno in their article titled, “Culture Industry” argue that, “Nowadays, culture influences everything. The TV, cinema, and publications have established a system that is unified, exactly like a whole. Obviously, culture has been turned into an industry and follows the rules of production in the market (Horkheimer & Adorno, 2002). In their view, this industry tries to change the satisfaction of the audience and in this way provide for their needs to have fun and hubbies. In addition, Ritzer considers the culture industry to be “logical and bureaucratized constructs” (like television channels) which influence culture (Ritzer, 1996). Robert Putnam has used the concept of social capital in relation to the studies on social communication in the U.S. The main theme of his work on American society was that after 1960, it has shown a uniform trend towards isolation from the social life. He considers mass media as one of the major reasons for such a phenomenon. The subject of his study was the lack of social capital in the U.S., which is related to the fears, and hopes of many people. His studies have attracted the attention of many experts, policy makers, and even a large number of young people. Putnam considers social capital as good and lack of it as bad and calls for actions to restore societies to health. He believes that the growing number of media technologies especially that of television is the main reason of laziness among Americans. In Putnam’s view, television is the main reason of Americans’ isolation and reduction of social capital through the disconnection of social interactions. He thinks that watching TV has not replaced social interactions and has not led to inner satisfaction among Americans since he believes that those who watch many television programs despise it gradually and enjoy less (Field, 2008). Putnam argues that spending time on social media especially television prevents human beings from thinking about serious social issues. Examples of reduction in the rate of involvement in voluntary activities and helping those in need originates from the excessive attraction of the youth towards television and radio programs and the Internet. It seems that what the media transfer to the youth reflects the point that what image do we have of ourselves as citizens (Field, 2008). Thus the purpose of this paper is to study the impact that TV programs and Satellite channels have on social capital among students.

Material & Methods
Survey research has been used in the current study in order to collect data. The data required for the evaluation of the rate of students’ use of domestic news from internal TV and the effects of the rate of media consumption and media consumption patterns on their social capital were collected using questionnaire. In order to determine the validity of this instrument, face validity assessment, test-retest method, and established measures were applied. In order to assess the reliability of the instrument, Cronbach's Alpha was used. Based on this analysis, the reliability of the questionnaire of subjective social capital was determined as 0.852 and the reliability of the questionnaire of objective social capital was determined as 0.824. The research population consisted of all the students studying in state universities in the city of Tabriz during 2011-2012. The sample size is consisted of 381 students, chosen based on stratified random sampling method.

Discussion of Results & Conclusions
The testing of the first hypothesis reveals that the ordinary viewers of TV programs do have a higher degree of social capital compared with the high-consumption group of viewers. The reason for this might be originated from people’s detachment from the realities within a society that are happening in a daily fashion and can be effective in forming one’s thoughts, opinions, and socials activities. The high-consumption viewers loose themselves in the world of visual media and movies and other programs. So become unable to demonstrate a whole picture of the realities of a society and because of their limitations, are only able to picture a part of social realities that are objective and can be pictures. With regard to satellite channels, since the majority of the viewers watch Persian-language programs and the managers of those channels have their own underlying political aims, by which they only portrait a part of realities in Iranian society on various social, cultural, and political aspects that are in line with their own goals, thus the viewers are integrated into a world that is made up for them and become detached from the realities of their own social environment, alienated from their surrounding society. Those who make use of several media such as the Internet, satellite, and newspapers put a low trust in news that is broadcasted from domestic television while those who use domestic television and radio agree more with that. The reason for people to watch the programs of satellite TV might be due to a compensatory approach and complementing their information and knowledge in the combination of the programs in domestic TV with the programs of satellite channels. When audiences face the programs of other media, their attitudes and mentality becomes influenced, too. Maybe this is the reason for the lower trust of the users of the Internet, newspapers, and satellite in the perspectives that are presented on domestic TV on various issues.