Show Less
Restricted access

Private and Public on Social Network Sites

Differences and Similarities between Germany and China in a Globalized World


Jingwei Wu

This book explores the boundary between «the private» and «the public» on Social Network Sites based on the sociability framework. The author analyses the roles of social norms and influences, benefits, and risks/costs, on the behaviors of SNSs users through models based on Social Exchange Theory, Social Penetration Theory and Communication Privacy Management Theory. She reviews different notions of «the private» and «the public» and selects the sociability framework to investigate the distinction between private and public. The author uses this theoretical framework to conduct online surveys and interviews with selected SNSs users in Germany and China and concludes that the clear boundary of «the private» and «the public» on SNSs is a result of acts of disclosure and/or withdrawal of personal information and political opinions. Globalization and mediatization contribute to similarities among different countries but do not erase the differences in their respective boundaries.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

IV. “The Private” and “The Public”: Differences and Similarities in a Globalized Germany and China


Economic development, globalization and the diffusion of ICTs reconfigure cultural and social differences so that countries all over the world become more similar in the ways they approach the issue of privacy concerns and freedom of speech in the cyber world. By extension, many countries also subscribe to the belief that SNSs expand the parameters of public discussions, political or not. With the rising popularity of the Internet across the globe, people of different nationalities begin to adopt similar attitudes towards privacy protection and freedom of opinion expression. Consequently, the location and interpretation of the boundary between “private” and “public” in different countries may also reflect some similarities. This chapter analyzes the private and public concepts of “private” and “public” in a cross-cultural context, using the framework of sociability as a reference point. I contextualize the concepts of “private” and “public” historically and socially within Germany and China to analyze the respective differences and similarities of how these two nations view the respective boundary between “the private” and “the public”, and examine the ways in which processes of globalization and digitalization influence both German and Chinese cultures and social behaviors on SNSs.

4.1 “The Private” and “The Public” in German Society

I have selected Germany and China as the basis of my comparative study as these are countries that exhibit starkly contrasting cultures and social traditions. As such, we may assume that these two countries display some obvious differences in the ways each of...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.