Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Document Type



Cultural norms are characteristics of local contexts germane to interpersonal relationships. Extending theoretical evidence shows that cultural practices ritualize the way people interact with one another across a variety of domains. Employing survey data from face-to-face interviews of 313 Chinese university students, this dissertation examines individual and relational characteristics of networks that underlie the use of communication technologies. Specifically, I assess the inextricable connection between tie strength, social role, and various modalities of media via the theme of media multiplexity. From here, I investigate the way in which offline interaction, digital communication, and structural characteristics of core networks interact with social support to influence mental health. In the last step, I delve into the social and technological factors that predict cybervictimization and its ramifications on psychological well-being. Additionally, by incorporating the “face” element into a form of Sino-cyberbullying, I test the association between privacy violations, the function of guanxi on social media, and face loss.

The findings suggest that co-presence contacts are not separate from nor do they replace co-located connections in the era of cyber China. As to media multiplexity, expressive intimacy and social roles are less critical than renqing (favor) and instrumentality of a tie in personal networks, reinforcing the relational particularism argument. In addition, much of the effects on symptoms of anxiety and depression result from in-person interactions with peers and distinct dimensions of personal networks regarding the proportions of – male members, negative ties, nonreciprocal relations, and alters maintained by email. This has implications for the ways local cultural values surrounding individual network environments shape persons’ mental health. Furthermore, results on the likelihood of cyber-targetization and face loss shed light on the victim precipitation model, self-concepts, and self-presentation theories while enlarging the application of Goffman’s face-work in the digital age. Ultimately, homophilous ties are salient in Chinese college students’ networks, through which they seek social support to cope with psychological distress. Collectively, these insights contribute to the sociology of technology studies, a deeper understanding of the correlation between personal networks and mental health within cultural contexts, and the literature on the sociology of cyberbullying victimization.



Committee Chair

Shrum, Wesley



Available for download on Sunday, July 08, 2029