Guanxi in an age of digitalization: toward assortation and value homophily in new tie-formation

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10 Citations (Scopus)


How do people form personal ties? A consensus holds in sociological and social network scholarship that in-person networks are dominated by status homophily and that guanxi networks rely extensively on balance. This article argues that social networking sites (SNSs) reconceptualize the character of homophily and tie-formation altogether in guanxi networks. Drawing on 50 semi-structured interviews with Hong Kong youth from 2017 to 2020, this article examines how the technical capabilities of SNSs and principles of guanxi culture come together to erode status boundaries, create access to larger networks, and cause spillovers of information and tie strength. As a result, the basis of tie-formation in guanxi networks on SNSs shifts from balance to assortation and status homophily to value homophily. In this transformed calculus of tie-formation, two typologies of values rise to the fore: substantive values that reflect opinions and interests, as well as structural values that reflect networkability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalJournal of Chinese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Digitalization
  • Guanxi
  • Social networks
  • Tie-formation
  • Value homophily

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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