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Weibo communication and government legitimacy in China: A computer-assisted analysis of Weibo messages on two 'mass incidents'

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journal contribution
posted on 11.04.2016, 09:16 by Jingrong Tong, L. Zuo
This article, based on a computer-assisted analysis of Weibo communications about two recent 'mass incidents' in China, offers a model for understanding online communication's influence on government legitimacy. This study explores the discourse of Weibo discussions on social protests and what impacts this discourse may have on the legitimacy of Chinese government in the digital environment. The Weibo discourses on the two mass incidents suggest two modes of online communication: one-way communication, where local residents have taken the initiative and two-way communication, initiated by both local residents and national elites. Different themes the discourses have touched suggest different types and levels of impacts Weibo discussions have on government legitimacy. More precisely, the discourse in which there is a critique of the current national political system in China is more challenging to government legitimacy than the one in which there are only demands for local changes. The online discourse about the Haimen incident on Weibo even can be seen as reinforcing government legitimacy. Therefore, the impact of online communication on government legitimacy is relative and depends on specific cases. To understand the power of online communication requires us to analyse the nature of online discourses about specific cases and then examine them within external social and political contexts and by comparing them with one another. Contextual dynamics such as social problems and tensions can function as an indicator for understanding the type and level of impact of online communication on government legitimacy. © 2013 © 2013 Taylor & Francis.

History

Citation

Information Communication and Society, 2014, 17 (1), pp. 66-85

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Media and Communication

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Information Communication and Society

Publisher

Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles

issn

1369-118X

eissn

1468-4462

Acceptance date

27/08/2013

Copyright date

2013

Available date

11/04/2016

Publisher version

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2013.839730

Language

en