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Title: Digital social norms and mobile-based social networking applications : a study of urban Chinese young people's use of WeChat
Authors: Peng, Yuzhu
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Today, the advent of mobile-based social networking applications is dramatically changing how urban Chinese young people socialise with each other, as well as how they experience the world. In particular, WeChat – the most popular Chinese mobile-based social networking application – has been launched onto the market, attracting millions of young users in urban China. The ways in which young people use this application are inextricably linked to the dynamics of their urban living experiences, forming the digital social norms to which they adhere in their everyday lives. In this thesis, I develop an interdisciplinary approach which synthesises affect/new materialism and traditional cultural studies (e.g. symbolic interactionism) in order to understand the digital social norms emerging with urban Chinese young people’s everyday use of WeChat. In particular, Chinese college students are a representative group of young people, who are early adopters of WeChat and lead the trend of its usage in China. Through a year-long netnographic enquiry with 19 college students recruited from a chosen university in China, the research uncovers: 1) how the affective design of WeChat attracts urban Chinese young people’s attention and influences their everyday practices; 2) how these young people practise self-presentation through their personalisation of space; 3) how these young people socialise with close-by strangers; as well as 4) how these young people preserve their spatial privacy. The outcomes of the discussion not only help to understand the digital social norms emerging with this particular form of technology among urban Chinese younger generation but also develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between culture and technology that speaks to a broader audience.
Description: Ph.D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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