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From Active Audience to Media Citizenship: The Case of Post-Mao China
chapterposted on 2023-05-28, 01:34 authored by Yu, Haiqing
This chapter studies media practices of urban Chinese in order to examine conceptual changes in the notion of citizenship in post-Mao China. It focuses on how the media can cultivate a "rights" consciousness among the populace and how new media have been appropriated as alternative public spaces for articulating alternative political discourses. Through two case studies (the deaths of Sun Zhigang and li Siyi), I argue that the concept of citizenship can no longer be thought of as a formal and institutional given, but as a concept of fluidity and flexibility that rests on the spatial and subjective positions of the individual in question. New media have been playing an essential role in decentralizing "citizenship." Active audience participation in online discussions, petitions and protests can influence public opinion, check the authority, and even challenge the political agendas of the government as shown in the abolition of "anti-vagrancy laws" in the case studies. I describe this as the practice of "media citizenship." It is a sign of empowerment for the awakening "masses" of certain factions of Chinese society for whom participation in the circulation of "lay" knowledge of social and political issues is equivalent to exercising citizenship.
Publication titleMediated Citizenship
Place of publicationAbingdon, UK