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Dr Tian Xiaoli publishes article on WeChat in the workplace in Social Forum journal

22 January 2021

Congratulations to Dr Tian Xiaoli for the recent publication of her article “An Interactional Space of Permanent Observability: WeChat and Reinforcing the Power Hierarchy in Chinese Workplaces” in the internationally renowned journal Social Forum.

Dr Tian’s article examines how digital media influences daily interpersonal interactions in the workplace, asking how social media use influence workplace hierarchies and power dynamics. Based on in-depth interviews with WeChat users in Chinese workplaces, Dr Tian finds that lower-ranked individuals were compelled to constantly express loyalty and appreciation, and publicly submit to their superiors by “liking” or commenting on their WeChat posts. Dr Tian’s study finds that, under certain circumstances, WeChat use actually intensifies workplace hierarchies and power dynamics, thereby sharpening social inequality, rather than eliminating it.

An Open Access version of the article can be viewed on the SocArXiv archive.

Sociological Forum is the flagship journal of the Eastern Sociological Society. The journal publishes high quality research on substantive issues of fundamental importance to the study of society. The journal’s mission is broad in scope, encompassing empirical works (both quantitative and qualitative), as well as works that develop theories, concepts or methodological strategies.

Dr Tian’s article is another example of the world-leading sociological research on digital media that is conducted at HKU Sociology.

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