Sunday, October 24, 2010

Petition:Better Fruit in the UNCSA Cafeteria

As an experiment on social capital, I decided to create a petition for “Better Fruit in the UNCSA Cafeteria.” This was to see how strong my social capital was under a specific cause. I would be testing my social capital on facebook by posting a link to the online petition, found at In order to sign online, prospective petitioners were asked their email, name, and location. I also tested my social capital within the physical world, asking people to sign the petition by providing their name and email on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. The experiment went on for 5 days from October 15th to October 20th during which I would collect signatures from both sources, and document the activity. Collecting data from both sources shows where my social capital is the strongest, on facebook or the real world.

Today I created the petition serve better quality fruit in the cafeteria. My goal is a minimum of 50 signatures by Wednesday. Posted the link to facebook in the hopes of more recognition. Within an hour of posting, 2 signatures are collected. Throughout the day, several people “liked” the link and 1 person commented on the link. I also received 2 wall posts advocating the petition. The online petition received 16 signatures in all. While personally asking people, 14 signatures were collected. When I approached people, an interesting phenomena similar to mob psychology: A “chain reaction” spread throughout the people within my proximity. As I told one person about the petition, several people around me inquired and my social capital increased before my eyes as more and more people signed the petition.

Saturday I received 3 signatures for the online petition. There was a comment on the link and more people “liked” it. Its interesting, because the people who were “liking” my link where people who do not currently go to UNCSA. It shows the quality of my online social capital is not strong, because less people signed the actual petition on the website than the people that “liked” it on facebook. The “chain reaction” occurred again while asking people on campus. I collected 7 signatures total in person.

My social capital was dead today. There were 0 signatures and no facebook activity. Around campus I did not receive any signatures, due to the incident where someone was against the petition. The reverse of the chain reaction occurred, and as she rejected signing, the people around her rejected also. It seems that my social capital has come at a stopping point, and I hope the experiment will not have to be cancelled Will continue tomorrow but if the same results occur, the experiment will have to end early.

Monday gave a glimmer of hope to my social capital. Although there was only 1 online signature and 2 “likes,” the written signatures totaled up to 9. My online social capital is diminishing, while my personal network of people has made a large comeback within the last 24 hours.

The last and final signature was contributed to the online petition, with no “likes” nor facebook comments. I received 6 personal signatures with the same chain reaction trend.

10.20.10 - 10.23.10
The petition has finally come to a close! I consider it a success because in all, I managed to exceed the minimum of signatures by 6. I received a completely ludicrous facebook comment where she suggested that we dress up as fruit and start a rally outside the cafeteria. Fortunately this was not even necessary, for from Wednesday to Saturday the cafeteria has provided much better quality and range of fruits from strawberries to fresh honeydew melons, raspberries, blueberries, grapes bananas and blackberries. In all the petition received 56 signatures (21 online and 35 written), 5 facebook comments, and 15 likes. The strength of my social capital is evident within my personal network as opposed to my online network, due to the chain reaction that happens within a group of people. Although on facebook and the petition site for the gained a lot of feedback, the quality of the response was mostly superficial, with several “likes” from people who did not actually support the petition. From this information it can be concluded that a social capital is more successful in the real world as opposed to online.


  1. This is great. Not only do we actually need better fruit in the cafeteria, but it's interesting to me that you got more signatures from face to face, but that you reached a larger group of people online... some of which I don't think even go to this school!

  2. I love this lab not only because of the subject but also because of they way you got the word out. It definitely builds social capital to not rely on only one way of communication, and it feels like many people do just this. The way you integrated different forms of technology (Facebook and petition website) and face to face interaction was really creative. UNCSA Cafeteria really does need better fruit... I also thought it was frustrating that they would not have a meeting with you.


  3. I just find it truly interesting to know that people who are not even in this country have access and join in on situations like this. I just goes to show that the internet is definitely not the place to increase your social capital and your results clearly showed that. Great job on the petition. I sincerely wish there was a way to fix the fruit. It sucks.

  4. I absolutely love this experiment. I think it was for a really good cause and it definitely helps your social capital. Going out in the world and petitioning helps you interact with more people. It also can make people become better friends because they now have a same interest and can bond over it. I also think that you should really go through with the petition, if they can meet with you, because it would help out a lot in the caf.

  5. This is the best lab I have read. You put so much time in it, and I totally am for better fruit. I don't know if I want to sign it face to face or online? Anyway this is awesome.

  6. I think this is the greatest demonstration of effective means to accumulate social capital - attempting to unify the community by addressing a cause of popular concern. Hopefully this proposal could come to fruition! (No pun intended?)

  7. I totally enjoyed this experiment. At first when you asked me if I wanted to sign the petition, I was wondering what it had to do with social capital. It makes so much sense now! I really think you should keep the petitions going and see how many signatures you can get, then show the caf people, so we can get better fruit!!!

  8. Personally, this was a great lab. It actually involved tons of people to come together and want the same thing. I feel this would affect the real world instead of doing a lab where it just presents a conclusion. You should definitely consider going through with this. So many people would be grateful for anything decent in that cafeteria.

  9. I like your journals for all the different days. When you mentioned the "chain reaction" on the 15th, it made me think about how much social capital has to do with being in the same place at the same time, as opposed to actually sharing interests or bonds between people. I think this lab is a great way to study that aspect of social capital.
    From Anthony

  10. A cool idea, unifying a campus for a common cause or interest is a great way to build Social Capital, I hope you go through with this!