Group Support in the Chat Rooms: Community Resilience During the Lockdown

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2022)
Title: Group Support in the Chat Rooms: Community Resilience During the Lockdown
Stream: Social Media and Communication Technology
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Ruochen Zhang, University College London, United Kingdom
Xinghan Wang, University of California, Berkeley, United States


Community resilience is proven to be closely related to physical and emotional wellbeing under pandemics. In view of the quarantine policy with strict self-isolation procedures, the community building and management are disrupted, owing to the restriction on offline social activities and physical communication, which may pose negative perceptions towards the level of community resilience. In the unprecedented lockdown in Shanghai, which is still ongoing, the effect of social media engagement within local communities on the collective feeling of resilience should be under thorough investigation. As the past studies focused on how different types of social media engagement are related to community resilience, the influence of the medium (e.g., social media platforms or specific functionalities) and the types of information disseminated are often neglected. In the case of Shanghai, group chats on WeChat, mainly based on the physical adjacency, have become the central stage that residents resort to in terms of information and social support. In particular, during the early days of household food shortage, people relied heavily on these chat rooms to receive information on group shopping and join. The support provided in group chats is perceived to build and strengthen community resilience. The community members exposed to supportive messages in the chats may take active or passive roles in interpretation and dissemination. By focusing on the WeChat context, this paper aims at examining whether the community support perceived and participative roles taken by community members in the chat rooms would affect their perception of vulnerability and community resilience.

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