Culture 2.0: Socio-cultural elements of relationships lived online

Symposium Abstract
An estimated 2 billion people around the globe use social network sites (SNS). Research suggests that this proliferation of new media will homogenize interpersonal processes: showing off, amassing large interpersonal networks, and independent identities will become the norm. This symposium, however, pushes back on this technologically-deterministic stance. Papers presented here argue that culture, too, impacts ICT use. In-depth interviews of young social-media users in Japan (Paper 1), surveys of Facebook users in the US and France (Paper 2), and cross-national comparisons from within East Asia (Paper 3), argue the acquisition and maintenance of peers on social media is moderated by existing cultural practices. Empirical evidence is also presented that links offline social structures to interpersonal outcomes associated with SNS use (Paper 4). Overall, the symposium offers strong evidence for SNS users’ shaping of ICT along existing cultural and social realities. The discussant is a researcher in internet psychology and culture.

Chair Details: Robert Thomson, Hokkaido University, Japan
Discussant: Kei Fuji, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Presentation 1
Friending la francaise: Identifying culturally based Facebook friending strategies used by French and Americans
Genavee Brown, Universite Rennes 2, France
Nicolas Michinov, Universite Rennes 2, France
Josepsh Trimble, Western Washington University, USA
Facebook, a globally used social network, provides similar technological affordances across cultures. However, studies show differences in Facebook use serve differing relational needs in societies with varying levels of individualism. France and the US, Western countries differing in individualism, are interesting points of comparison because most studies on Facebook use compare Western and Eastern countries. In the US, a highly individualistic society, amassing social connections is valued. In France, a less individualistic society, maintaining fewer but closer relationships is important. First-year university students (257 French, 166 American) completed Facebook use questionnaires. Americans had larger networks, more distant ties, and communicated less with close and distant ties on Facebook than French. In other words, Americans accumulate ties but do not communicate with them, whereas French only friend people with whom they actively communicate; they have opposing Facebook friending strategies that meet their specific relational needs, congruous with differing levels of individualism.

Presentation 2
Societal differences in bridging social capital on social network sites: Relational mobility as an explanatory factor
Robert Thomson, Hokkaido University, Japan
Adriana Manago, Western Washington University, United States
Chelsea Melton, Western Washington University, United States
Previous research shows that social network site (SNS) users in East Asian countries, such as Japan, have significantly smaller online network sizes than SNS users in the West. Why does this difference exist, and what implications does this have for lauded bridging capital benefits of SNS use? We propose that relational mobility ‘ the degree of options regarding interpersonal relationships in a society (Yuki et al., 2007; 2012) ‘ can explain SNS network size differences, and may indirectly limit the degree to which SNS use fosters bridging social capital. To test this proposition, we surveyed Facebook and Twitter users in Japan and the US. Results indicated that Japan SNS users had smaller network sizes, and less bridging social capital. Moreover, these differences were mediated by societal differences in relational mobility. This suggests that the structure of offline interpersonal relationships impacts SNS use, and may impose limits on SNS-related social capital

Presentation 3 (Cancelled)
A Comparative Study of SNS Users between Japan, US, Taiwan and China: Disclosure of Personal Information and Network Homogeneity
Kenichi Ishii, University of Tsukuba, Japan
This study compares Facebook users between Japan, US, Taiwan, and Renren users in China, via an online survey conducted in these four countries in 2012/2013. Results indicate, Japanese users have the smallest number of friends on Facebook, show a higher level of homogeneity in their friendship network with higher proportion of off-line friends. Japanese users are less likely to disclose personally identifiable information although Japanese users most frequently read and post messages on Facebook among the four countries. In contrast, Chinese and Taiwanese people are most likely to disclose personal information on Facebook. Also, only Japanese users show a positive and significant correlation between network homogeneity, number of Facebook friends, and disclosure of personal information. These results suggest that, unlike SNS users from the US, Taiwan and China, Japanese users depend more on off-line homogeneous relationships in their friending processes on Facebook.

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Author Information
Genavee Brown, Universite Rennes 2, France Nicolas Michinov, Universite Rennes 2, France Josepsh Trimble, Western Washington University, USA Robert Thomson, Hokkaido University, Japan Adriana Manago, Western Washington University, United States Chelsea Melton, Western Washington University, United States

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Added on Monday, July 18th, 2016

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Web Link: http://papers.iafor.org/papers/iaccp2016/IACCP2016_29424.pdf



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