Journal of Social Computing


tie strength, Dunbar circle theory, Chinese Guanxi theory, supervised classification model, social network


This paper poses a question: How many types of social relations can be categorized in the Chinese context? In social networks, the calculation of tie strength can better represent the degree of intimacy of the relationship between nodes, rather than just indicating whether the link exists or not. Previou research suggests that Granovetter measures tie strength so as to distinguish strong ties from weak ties, and the Dunbar circle theory may offer a plausible approach to calculating 5 types of relations according to interaction frequency via unsupervised learning (e.g., clustering interactive data between users in Facebook and Twitter). In this paper, we differentiate the layers of an ego-centered network by measuring the different dimensions of user's online interaction data based on the Dunbar circle theory. To label the types of Chinese guanxi, we conduct a survey to collect the ground truth from the real world and link this survey data to big data collected from a widely used social network platform in China. After repeating the Dunbar experiments, we modify our computing methods and indicators computed from big data in order to have a model best fit for the ground truth. At the same time, a comprehensive set of effective predictors are selected to have a dialogue with existing theories of tie strength. Eventually, by combining Guanxi theory with Dunbar circle studies, four types of guanxi are found to represent a four-layer model of a Chinese ego-centered network.


Tsinghua University Press