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Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships

Edited By Kevin B. Wright and Lynne M. Webb

This is the first collection of readings on computer-mediated communication focusing exclusively on interpersonal interactions. Examining messages exchanged via email, Twitter, Facebook, websites, and blogs, the authors analyze communication issues of ongoing importance in relationships including deception, disclosure, identity, influence, perception, privacy, sexual fidelity, and social support. The book examines subjects that attract intense student interest – including online performance of gender, online dating, and using computer-mediated communication to achieve family/work life balance – and will inspire further research and course development in the area of computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. Because it provides a synthesis of ideas at the nexus of interpersonal communication theory and computer-mediated communication theory, the book can serve as a textbook for advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses.
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7. Locating Computer-Mediated Social Support Within Online Communication Environments (Andrew C. High / Denise H. Solomon)

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Locating Computer-Mediated Social Support within Online Communication Environments

Andrew C. High

Denise H. Solomon

Social support encompasses the comfort, assistance, and reassurance that people experience as a function of social relationships. Social support enables people to cope with a multitude of personal, physical, social, or mental stressors and experience important physical and psychological benefits (i.e., Burleson & MacGeorge, 2002; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Cunningham & Barbee, 2000). To date, the communication of social support has been predominantly studied as an activity that unfolds in face-to-face (FtF) interaction. Although FtF communication is an important source of social support, this focus neglects the fact that social interaction unfolds in a variety of communication modalities and mediated discourse may even be preferred or required in some circumstances (Walther & Parks, 2002). In this chapter, we consider computer-mediated communication (CMC) as a means of seeking and receiving social support.

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