Bridging or bonding? A cross-cultural study of social relationships in social networking sites

Sejung Marina Choi, Yoojung Kim, Yongjun Sung, Dongyoung Sohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Given the global expansion and social impact of social networking sites (SNSs hereafter), this study provides a cross-cultural examination of the nature of personal networks and social relationships college students hold in the online social space. Specifically, the present study investigates personal network composition, bridging and bonding social capital and relationship development of SNS users from the United States and Korea. Data were colleted via an online survey of 349 American and 240 Korean college students. Findings suggest that, although commonalities exist between the two groups, the use of SNSs for relational purposes and the resulting social capital and relationships are still culturally driven, reflecting the prevalent values and norms of the particular cultures in which the users belong. More specifically, American college students held larger but looser networks with a far greater portion of weak ties, whereas their Korean counterparts maintained smaller and denser networks with the roughly even ratio of strong and weak ties. American college students also reported obtaining more bridging social capital from their networks in SNSs than did their Korean counterparts, whereas the level of bonding social capital was not significantly different between the two groups. Finally, Korean respondents' relationships in their networks in SNSs were generally at a more advanced stage of development than their American counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-129
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Culture
  • Personal networks
  • Relationship development
  • Social capital
  • Social networking sites
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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