Civic Action and Media Perceptions within the Wall: The (Re) Negotiation of Power in China
Keywords:China, civic participation, social media, trust
Little has been known about China’s policing of the Internet until recently, when researchers began publishing insights on the types of messages that gets deleted and permitted on various social media platforms, as well as whether or not such moderations are performed automatically. Many discussions have focused on how such efforts may undermine the democratic potential and civic actions that may be empowered and facilitated by the Internet. Two cases discussed in this paper show a different picture: the aftermath of a train collision in Wenzhou in 2011, and an elaborate plan by a company to take out its competition – both utilizing social media. Structuration theory is used to analyse the types of agency, structures, and power negotiations that can be observed in both cases. The paper then reports a survey carried out with 499 participants on their perceptions of both cases, focusing on how trust propensity and types of information may shape their perceptions of media credibility. Results show that trust propensity was only significant in shaping perceptions of credibility for social media, but the types of information is significant in shaping perceptions of credibility for both mainstream and social media. Implications are drawn for media literacy as well as how civic actions function within China.
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JeDEM is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal (ISSN: 2075-9517). All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Austria (CC BY 3.0) License.