The transmission of stress within a granular material composed of rigid spheres is explored using the discrete element method. The contribution of contacts to both deviatoric stress and structural anisotropy is investigated. The influences of five factors are considered: inter-particle friction coefficient, loading regime, packing density, contact model, and boundary conditions. The data generated indicate that using the above-average normal contact force criterion to decompose the contact force network into two subsets with distinct contributions to stress transmission and structural anisotropy is not robust. The characteristic normal contact forces marking the transition from negative to positive contribution to the overall deviatoric stress and structural anisotropy are not unique values but vary during shearing. Once the critical state is attained (i.e., once shearing continues at a constant deviator stress and solid fraction), the characteristic normal contact force remains approximately constant and this critical state characteristic normal force is observed to decrease with increasing inter-particle friction. The characteristic normal contact force considering the contribution to deviatoric stress has a power-law relationship with the mean effective stress at the critical state.