The problem of online communication has become a popular topic in Pacific and Asian studies and other research avenues. Modern researchers utilize a range of approaches to studying the applications of social media in Asian countries. This paper is aimed at comparing and contrasting two studies about social media communication in China that are similar in terms of topics but rely on different methods, approaches to argumentation, and types of data.
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The first article chosen is devoted to the past and the present of social media applications in China. More precisely, the work by Harwit published in the Chinese Journal of Communication emphasizes the development of WeChat, a popular messaging application, and analyzes its current role in online communications in China (312). Therefore, the topic chosen by the researcher relates both to opportunities for Chinese social media users and the app’s ability to transform and facilitate the process of group formation.
Similar to the previous work, the second article delves into online communications in China and their meaning for the country’s development. In their study published in the Journal of China Tourism Research, Yang and Wang focus on the most popular social media websites among Chinese users and apply their findings to different aspects of everyday life (166). Even though the perspectives of these two studies are quite similar in terms of setting, these sources emphasize different target customers such as common users who need communication channels and prospective consumers in the tourism industry.
The first difference between the articles that illustrates the variety of strategies used for studying social media relates to the chosen methods and arguments. As for the paper by Harwit, it approaches the topic using the method of literature review and summarizes the findings of previous researchers devoted to WeChat, Chinese politics, and communication theories (313). The arguments are based on the premise that the role of social media apps in modern communication is partially defined by Chinese governmental agencies. Also, the researcher recognizes the trends of digital inclusion and social atomization even though the latter seems to contradict the core purpose of social media – strengthening inter-and intra-group links.
As it has been stated, the research methods and offered arguments greatly vary if the two studies are compared. Unlike the previous work, the study conducted by Yang and Wang is not fully based on the findings of other researchers – instead, it analyzes the uses of social media in tourism marketing using the method of content analysis (171). Thus, in order to define the key trends related to social media in the activity of destination management organizations, the researchers utilize a large sample of online posts and advertisements and analyze them both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Concerning the key arguments, Yang and Wang agree with the first study when it comes to the popularity of WeChat in China and social media apps’ great role in changing everyday communication and business (175). However, when it comes to differences related to argumentation, the study about tourism does not touch upon the most controversial aspects of social media, such as government control and online censorship efforts. At the same time, if compared to the previous study, the arguments of Yang and Wang are based on verifiable quantitative data (182).
Taking into account the dissimilarities between the approaches to social media research in the two studies, the findings and conclusions reported in the articles also differ drastically. For instance, in the source by Harwit, the key findings relate to the limited opportunities for the formation of large groups offered by WeChat and the great role of the government in monitoring the activity of its users (324). Based on the listed findings, the researcher makes conclusions concerning the further development of WeChat, according to which it is going to slow “the formation of a large digital civil society” (Harwit 324). Therefore, both findings and conclusions are focused on prospective analysis and group formation.
As distinct from that, the study about tourism presents findings and conclusions that mainly relate to the current situation with social media. In their findings, Yang and Wang compare the performance indicators of particular destination management organizations that contact Chinese users via social media (181). Also, unlike the previous study, this source provides a classification of advertising efforts and discusses improvement opportunities in the conclusion section.
In general, due to significant methodological dissimilarities, the researchers emphasize different aspects of social media use in China. It leads to the dissimilitude of the authors’ findings, conclusions, and arguments about the applications of social media. Nevertheless, the sources do not contradict each other when it comes to the evaluation of online apps’ role in personal and business communication. As for common points, the articles are similar in terms of research topics and arguments about the growing impact of social media in China.
Harwit, Eric. “WeChat: Social and Political Development of China’s Dominant Messaging App.” Chinese Journal of Communication, vol. 10, no. 3, 2017, pp. 312-327. Web.
Yang, Xin, and Dan Wang. “The Exploration of Social Media Marketing Strategies of Destination Marketing Organizations in China.” Journal of China Tourism Research, vol. 11, no. 2, 2015, pp. 166-185.