- Will the Real Weibo Please Stand Up? Chinese Online Contention and Actor-Network Theory
- Chinese Journal of Communication
- Volume | Issue number
- 7 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Social media platforms have become key participants in Chinese political contention. Global media eagerly report on cases involving social media, often celebrating them as signs of political change. This article analyzes the involvement of Sina Weibo in two instances of political contention: one concerns the Huili picture scandal of June 2011, and the other a controversy around the popular rally racer and novelist Han Han that started in December 2011. Drawing inspiration from actor-network theory (ANT), we show how Sina Weibo's particular technological features, the related user cultures, and the platform's systematic self-censorship practices, in addition to the occasional government interventions, mutually articulate each other. By tracing how technological features and emerging practices become entangled, we gain insight into how new publics are constituted and how symbolic reconfigurations unfold.
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