The Quality of Virtual Communities: A Case Study of Chinese Overseas Students in WeChat Groups

By Xu Zhang.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is part of my PhD research on an observation of social capital being formed through digital platforms under a cultural context. Recently, the Chinese overseas students have become to the largest group study in the UK (UKCISA 2016), and there are some social and cultural concerns need to be addressed rather than its economic influence. The motivation of this research is to produce an understanding of the mechanisms of traditional Chinese social relationships “Guanxi” and the Western term “Social Capital,” and how these can be mixed and immersed in virtual communities. Chinese overseas students in Plymouth of the UK were selected as a focus group, and the WeChat groups they usually accessed were the main platforms I observed and investigated. Netnography is the essential method for this interpretive research, and the findings show that virtual communities can enhance the local cultural understandings and shape Chinese overseas students’ lives through mutually sharing information, knowledge, and experiences. However, the sense of community is still not clear under the Chinese culture background, and there is a need to set up a new type of social capital through digital platforms that I call “Guanxi 2.0.”

Keywords: Social Capital, Guanxi, WeChat, Groups, Virtual Communities

The Global Studies Journal, Volume 10, Issue 3, September 2017, pp.19-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 982.278KB).

Xu Zhang

PhD Research Student, i-DAT, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, UK


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