NEW BOOK | Media Events in Web 2.0 China: Interventions of Online Activism

By Dr Jian Xu

9781845196356Informed by a historical sensibility, Dr. Jian Xu’s book is an important study of three types of Internet-enabled events in China, which he calls media celebration, media disaster, and media scandal. The use of media events as an analytical frame significantly extends and enriches a famous concept in communication and social theory and deepens our understanding of an enduring social and collective practice in the digital age. This well-written and carefully-researched book deserves to be widely read. (Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online)

Engaging with the concept of the media event to examine the challenges and possibilities of online activism in China, Xu’s book makes a significant contribution to media and communication studies scholarship, while at the same time both extending and updating its empirical and theoretical purchase. (Wanning Sun, Professor of Media Studies, University of Technology Sydney)

This book is among the first to use a “media events” framework to examine China’s Internet activism and politics, and the first study of the transformation of China’s media events through the parameter of online activism. The author locates the practices of major modes of online activism in China (shanzhai [culture jamming]; citizen journalism; and weiguan [mediated mobilization]) into different types of Chinese media events (ritual celebration, natural disaster, political scandal). The contextualized analysis of online activism thus enables exploration of the spatial, temporal and relational dimensions of Chinese online activism with other social agents – such as the Party-state, mainstream media and civil society. Analysis reveals Internet politics in China on three interrelated levels: the individual, the discursive and the institutional.

Contemporary cases, rich in empirical research data and interdisciplinary theory, demonstrate that the alternative and activist use of the Internet has intervened into and transformed conventional Chinese media events in various types of agents, their agendas and performances, and the subsequent and corresponding political impact. The Party-market controlled Chinese media events have become more open, contentious and deliberative in the Web 2.0 era due to the active participation of ordinary Chinese people aided by the Internet.

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