Special Issue 2, December 2018
Article Number: 05
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Social Networks of Student-Migrants: Case of Chinese Students at the Ural Federal University, Russia

Antonova, N., and Purgina, E.
Pages 499-503

Abstract—Relevance of the problem: As the share of international students in Russian universities is increasing, their
successful integration into the new environment becomes a matter of particular importance. Moreover, the mechanisms of their
adaptation and the way this social group functions in the new system require more in-depth and extensive research. The analysis
of social networks built by student-migrants could prove to be a valuable methodological tool capable of revealing the structure
and types of social connections formed and reproduced within such networks. A complex of social networks creates a special
type of network space comprising social positions, roles, and relationships. Thus, social networks turn into a kind of social
capital that helps international students boost their confidence in the new, foreign-language environment and adjust more
effectively. Data and methodology: For our study, we developed a questionnaire consisting of fifteen questions and surveyed
twenty Chinese students currently enrolled at the Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg, Russia). The survey was conducted
at the beginning of 2017. The data were further processed by applying the thematic network method. Results and discussion:
We found that students’ personal networks are normally associated with their campus life, studies, leisure activities,
communication with family members, friends, and native peers. These networks do not have definite boundaries. The largest
network is usually the one connected to studies as it involves international and local-born students, professors and the
administrative staff. Connections within social networks are generally of mixed character, including both direct contacts and
indirect contacts maintained through the Internet and other media. Students consider social networks as their social capital that
helps them overcome barriers to adaptation more effectively.

Keywords—social networks, network capital, network space, international students, university