Bridging the Financial Literacy Divide through Online Self-Organized Social Systems

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • The democratizing effect of second-generation, web-based technologies has significantly diminished traditional barriers to information. A multitude of financial literacy programs and tools are now available online, giving rise to an increased access to financial education. Despite this, persistent financial struggles among Canadians suggest that access to financial literacy interventions may not be enough to bridge the financial literacy divide. The use of Online Self-Organizing Social Systems (OSOSSes) in providing emergent and situationally-relevant financial advice may present an opportunity to support existing modes of financial education and improve individuals’ personal finance success. In addition, observational learning through OSOSSes may provide participants positive and negative models to reinforce existing financial knowledge or encourage financial behaviours. Applying a qualitative research methodology involving participants of a popular knowledge-based Reddit community, r/PersonalFinanceCanada (r/PFC), this study explored the following research questions:
    RQ1: In what ways does participation in OSOSS influence participants’ financial knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours?
    RQ2: How does examining this phenomenon through the lens of social learning inform future research and development of financial literacy programs?
    Semi-structured interviews yielded a data corpus that was analyzed using a combination of conventional and directed content analysis. Findings suggest that as a result of observations and, to a lesser degree, interactions with other OSOSS participants lead to in an increase in financial awareness and confidence, and result to a positive effect on participants’ financial behaviours. This study provides a foundation for future research on the impact of OSOSSes participation on individuals’ personal finance outcomes.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International