Technology and Information Policy Institute: Wenhong Chen

Jennifer Brundidge

Wenhong Chen

Wenhong Chen’s research focuses on the social implications of new information and communication technologies for social networks and social capital. Dr. Chen’s work has appeared in Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Information, Communication & Society, City & Community, and Management and Organization Review. Her research has been funded by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada,Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Advanced Micro Devices, and Bell Canada. Among her awards are the IDEA Award, Entrepreneurship Division, Academy of Management and the Young Scholar Award of the International Association of Chinese Management Research. Dr. Chen has participated in the design of several national sample surveys in the US, Canada, and China and developed an array of survey instruments to measure social networks and the use of information and communications technologies.

Recent Projects & Reports

Networked China Conference

The Internet and digital media have become conduits and locales where hundreds of millions of Chinese share information and engage in creative expression and social participation. Yet, compared to their growing prevalence and significance, research on the contingent, non-linear, and sometimes paradoxical impacts of digital media and technologies in Chinese societies remain theoretically underdeveloped and empirically understudied. Departing from previous studies centered on censorship or online activism, this conference casts a wider net and explores how people navigate, negotiate, and transform social landscapes rooted in the Chinese context, revealing both the power and limitations of the Internet and other digital media and communication technologies.

Featured Work: Social Media in Student Life Project

Funded by internal grants at UT, the project surveyed 94% of the 630 undergraduate students enrolled in two RTF305 online and offline courses in Fall 2011 and conducted 47 in-depth interviews by Feb 2012. It focused on how digital and traditional media use affected civic engagement, political participation, and psychological wellbeing of college students.

The Austin Internet and Global Citizens Project

Collaborating with Joe Straubhaar and the Office of Telecommunications, City of Austin, we completed a random sample survey of 1701 Austin residents in 2011, exploring the relationship between Internet use, social networks, and global media flow.

The Networked Workers Survey

This research examined how the Internet and mobile phones affected the ways in which people worked and networked in the American workplace and how the positive and negative ICT impacts were distributed along various dimensions of social inequalities such as class, race, and gender. The project was funded by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2008.

The Social Capital in Three Societies Project

Led by Nan Lin, Yang-Chih Fu, and Chih-Jou Chen from 2004 to 2008, this project was a large comparative panel study of social capital and social networks in the US, China, and Taiwan. I have used the data to examine the relationship of Internet use, social networks, and social capital as well as the sociopsychological effects of unsolicited job information

The Immigrant Transnational Entrepreneurship (TIE) Project

Collaborated with Barry Wellman, I conducted the TIE Project from 2003 to 2007, which used mixed methods to examine how Chinese entrepreneurs relied on glocalized networks and the Internet to engage in transnational entrepreneurship. The project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and Bell Canada.

Edited Work


Co-editor, “Networked China”, New Agenda in Communication Series, Routledge.

Guest editor, The Internet in Chinese Societies, special issue for Information, Communication and Society


Guest editor, China and the Internet, special issue for Information, Communication and Society peer-reviewed journal article

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles


Chen, Wenhong and *Kye-Hyoung Lee. “Sharing, Liking, Commenting and Distressed? The Pathway between Facebook Interaction and Psychological Distress.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking

Chen, Wenhong, *Marcus Funk, Joseph Straubhaar, and *Jeremiah Spence. “Still Relevant? An Audience Analysis of Public Access Channels.” Journal of Broadcast and Electronic Media 57(3), 263-281.# Leading article

Chen, Wenhong. “Internet Use, Online Communication, and Ties in Americans' Networks.” Social Science Computer Review 31 (4) 404-423

Chen, Wenhong and *Travis Givens. “Mobile Donation in America.” Mobile Media and Communication 1(2): 196-212.

Chen, Wenhong. “The Impacts of Social Capital on the Digital Divides in America.” The Information Society 29(1):13-25. .


Fong, Eric, Chen, Wenhong, and Luk, Chiu, "A Study of Locational Distribution of Small and Large Ethnic Businesses in a Multi-Ethnic City: Chinese in Toronto.” International Journal of Small Business Management.


Chen, Wenhong and Barry Wellman. ““The Global Digital Divide - Within and Between Countries.” IT@Society 1: (7) 39-45. Reprinted in Jean Brick, 2011, “Academic Culture: A student's guide to studying at university” 2nd edition, Macmillan Education Australia, 172–176.


Wellman, Barry, Jeffrey Boase, and Wenhong Chen. “The Networked Nature of Community On and Off the Internet.” IT@Society 1: (1) 151-165.

Book Chapters


Wenhong Chen. “Growth or Decline: Changes in Americans’ Social Capital. ” in Social Capital: A Comparative Study, edited by Nan Lin, Yang-Chih Fu, and Chih-Jou Chen. Cambridge University Press.


Barry Wellman, Lee Rainie, and Wenhong Chen. “Networked Workers.” Pp. 171-196 in Networked: The New Social Operating System. MIT Press. BC6.


Chen, Wenhong and Justin Tan. “Understanding Transnational Entrepreneurship through a Network Lens.” Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice 33: (5) 1079-1091.

Chen, Wenhong and Barry Wellman. “Net and Jet: The Internet Use, Travel and Social Networks of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs.” Information, Communication & Society 12: (4) 525-547.

Lin, Nan, Yanlong Zhang, Wenhong Chen, Dan Ao, and Lijun Song. “Recruiting and Deploying Social Capital in Organizations: Theory and Evidence.” Pp.225-251 in Research in the Sociology of Work 18: Work and Organizations in China


Fong, Eric and Wenhong Chen. “Embedded Entrepreneurship in Market Transition: Resources Mobilization among Entrepreneurs in China.” Canadian Review of Sociology 44: (4) 415-450.

Fong, Eric, Emily Andersen, Wenhong Chen, and Chiu Luk. “The Logic of Ethnic Business Distribution in Multiethnic Cities.” Urban Affairs Review 43: (4) 497-519.

Fong, Eric, Xingshan Cao, and Wenhong Chen. “ The Transnational Linkages of Chinese in Toronto.” Social Transformation in Chinese Societies 3: 202-222.


Chen, Wenhong. “Does the Color of the Cat Matter? The Red Hat Strategy in China’s Private Enterprises.” Management and Organization Review 3: (1) 55-80. Best Student Paper Award, International Association for Chinese Management Research, 2004.

Fong, Eric, Wenhong Chen, and Chiu Luk. “Ethnic Businesses in Suburbs and City: the Spatial Dimension of Embeddedness.” City & Community 6: (2) 119-136.


Chen, Wenhong. “The Impact of Internet Use on Transnational Entrepreneurship - the Case of Chinese Immigrants to Canada.” Pp. 197-220 in New Technologies in Global Societies, edited by P. Law, L. Fortunati, and S. Yang. World Scientific Press.

Zhou, Min, Wenhong Chen, and Guoxuan Cai. “Chinese Language Media in the United States and Canada: International Migration and Immigrant Life in the Global World.” Pp. 42-73 in Media and Chinese Diaspora: Community, Commerce and Consumption in Asia and Pacific, edited by W. Sun. Routledge.


Chen, Wenhong and Barry Wellman. “Minding the Gaps: the Digital Divide and Social Inequality.” Pp. 523-545 in Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities, edited by M. Romero and E. Margolis. Oxford: Blackwell.


Chen, Wenhong and Barry Wellman. “Charting the Multiple Digital Divide.” Pp. 467-497 in Transforming Enterprise, edited by W. Dutton, B. Kahin, R. O'Callaghan, and A. Wyckoff. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Boase, Jeffrey, Wenhong Chen, Barry Wellman and Monica Prijatelj. “Is there a Place in Cyberspace: The Uses and Users of Public Internet Terminals.” Culture et Géographie 46: 5-20.

Wellman, Barry, Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Keith Hampton, Isabel Diaz de Isla, and Kakuko Miyata. “The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism.” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 8: 1-43.


Chen, Wenhong, Jeffrey Boase, and Barry Wellman. “The Global Villagers: Comparing Internet Users and Uses around the World.” Pp. 74-113 in The Internet in Everyday Life, edited by B. Wellman and C. Haythornthwaite. Oxford: Blackwell.


Wellman, Barry, Wenhong Chen, and Weizhen Dong. “Networking Guanxi.” Pp. 221-241 in Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi, edited by T. Gold, D. Guthrie, and D. Wank. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.