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Xiaoli Tian

Research Findings

No escape: When workplaces use social media

January 7, 2021

Existing studies on how information and communication technologies influence work find that workers use digital media to control their work-life boundaries. But in China, social media is all pervasive with a permanent memory. There is no escape in time or space, and resistance is futile.

In a recent article, I examine how workplace subordinates interact with their supervisors on WeChat, the most popular app in China. I find that lower-ranked individuals are compelled to constantly express their loyalty and appreciation and publicly submit to their superiors by clicking “like” or commenting on their posts. They also have to provide immediate and polite responses to their superordinates in WeChat group chats after work hours and with respect to non-work-related issues.

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