The Internet in China reflects many contradictions and complexities of the society in which it is embedded. Despite the growing significance of digital media and communication technologies, research on their contingent, non-linear, and sometimes paradoxical impact on civic engagement remains theoretically underdeveloped and empirically understudied. As importantly, many studies on the internet’s implications in Chinese societies have focused on China. This book draws on a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to advance a balanced and context-rich understanding of the effects of digital media and communication technologies, especially social media, for state legitimacy, the rise of issue-based networks, the growth of the public sphere, and various forms of civic engagement in China, Taiwan, and the global Chinese diaspora. Using ethnography, interview, experiment, survey, and the big data method, scholars from North America, Europe, and Asia show that the couture and impacts of digital activism depend on issue and context.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Information, Communication & Society.
1. Taking stock, moving forward: the Internet, social networks and civic engagement in Chinese societies Wenhong Chen 2. Transnational immanence: the autopoietic co-constitution of a Chinese spiritual organization through mediated communication Pauline Hope Cheong, Jennie M. Hwang and Boris H.J.M. Brummans 3. Online political participation, civic talk, and media multiplexity: how Taiwanese citizens express political opinions on the Web Yuli Patrick Hsieh and Meng-Hao Li 4. Derailed emotions: The transformation of claims and targets during the Wenzhou online incident Maria Bondes and Günter Schucher 5. Weibo communication and government legitimacy in China: a computer-assisted analysis of Weibo messages on two ‘mass incidents’ Jingrong Tong and Landong Zuo 6. Weibo network, information diffusion and implications for collective action in China Ronggui Huang and Xiaoyi Sun 7. Expanding civic engagement in China: Super Girl and entertainment-based online community Jingsi Christina Wu 8. Regional variation in Chinese internet filtering Joss Wright