• Yifan Jiang

Student thesis: Phd


Social Networking Sites allow users to manage their homepages to present themselves, and to interact with friends through networked connections. Some of these sites attract people from different cultural backgrounds (e.g. Facebook), providing an opportunity for online multi-cultural social networking to occur. This project aimed to contribute to cross-cultural Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) research, by investigating this kind of multi-cultural social networking. It focussed upon: 1) the role of cultural differences on users' perception of self-presentation of others; 2) the relationship between cross-cultural social capital and cross-cultural social networking on social networking sites; and 3) unveiling factors affecting users' decisions regarding social networking interactions. The researcher firstly investigated whether cultural differences in online self-presentation through communication styles affect audiences' perception, and whether audiences from different cultural backgrounds have different ways of perceiving others' online self-presentation. Secondly, whether cross-cultural social capital was associated with the intensity of cross-cultural social networking, and through which ways users can obtain the benefits of social capital through social networking interactions. Lastly, explored the factors influencing users' decisions on whether and/or how much effort to place upon each type of social networking.British and Chinese social networking users were chosen as research participants to represent two different cultural groups. By systematically comparing the difference between them, the results suggest: 1) Cultural differences in online self-presentation do influence people's perception of others, though it is not the only factor that affects this perception. British and Chinese audiences tend to focus on different cues when perceiving online self-presentations. 2) Cross-cultural social capital was positively associated with cross-cultural social networking. Further interview analysis revealed all kinds of social networking interactions (i.e. observing, communicating, grouping) could help users obtain the benefits of bridging social capital (e.g. acquiring new information and diffusing reciprocity); however only communicating and grouping with strong relationships brought different aspects of the benefit of bonding social capital to British and Chinese users. For instance, communicating and grouping helped Chinese users receive substantive support and access to limited resources; whereas grouping with strong relationships helped British users mobilize solidarity. 3) Three main factors may influence users' decisions regarding multi-cultural social networking interactions: (a) relationship strength - although both British and Chinese users tend to communicate mostly with strong relationships, they have differences in observing and grouping with different relationships. British users tend to observe mostly strong relationships and group with all relationships, whereas Chinese users tend to group mostly with strong relationships and observe all relationships; (b) perceived benefit of social capital - only bridging social capital benefit affected British users' decision, whereas both bridging and bonding social capital benefits motivated Chinese users; and (c) users' cultural background.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorOscar De Bruijn (Supervisor)

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