After the Internet, Before Democracy
Competing Norms in Chinese Media and Society
Year of Publication: 2010
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2010. 325 pp., num. tables and graphs
ISBN 978-3-0343-0435-1 pb. (Softcover)
ISBN 978-3-0351-0109-6 (eBook)
Weight: 0.510 kg, 1.124 lbs
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China has lived with the Internet for nearly two decades. Will increased Internet use, with new possibilities to share information and discuss news and politics, lead to democracy, or will it to the contrary sustain a nationalist supported authoritarianism that may eventually contest the global information order?
This book takes stock of the ongoing tug of war between state power and civil society on and off the Internet, a phenomenon that is fast becoming the centerpiece in the Chinese Communist Party’s struggle to stay in power indefinitely. It interrogates the dynamics of this enduring contestation, before democracy, by following how Chinese society travels from getting access to the Internet to our time having the world’s largest Internet population. Pursuing the rationale of Internet regulation, the rise of the Chinese blogosphere and citizen journalism, Internet irony, online propaganda, the relation between state and popular nationalism, and finally the role of social media to bring about China’s democratization, this book offers a fresh and provocative perspective on the arguable role of media technologies in the process of democratization, by applying social norm theory to illuminate the competition between the Party-state norm and the youth/subaltern norm in Chinese media and society.
Contents: Internet regulation and the youth/subaltern norm – In blogs they trust? – And the baton passes to … citizen journalism – Weapons of harmony and irony – Old propaganda becomes ideotainment – A nationalistic information sphere – The Google mirage: global business norms versus Internet sovereignty – Norms endgame and breakthrough.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
Johan Lagerkvist holds a PhD in Chinese from Lund University. He is a senior research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm.
«Insightful and timely, this book offers a rich analysis that brings the scholarship on Internet and democracy in China to a new level of holistic understanding. Drawing from solid empirical data and key historical knowledge, Dr. Lagerkvist connects classic political theory with China’s complex social reality, challenging conventional wisdom about Chinese authorities, political culture, and media system reform. Anyone interested in China’s media landscape and her democratic future should read this book.» (Jack Linchuan Qiu, Ph.D. Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
«Johan Lagerkvist has produced the most comprehensive treatment of the internet in China we’ve yet seen. He examines topics as varied as state regulation, blogging, citizen journalism and online irony and nationalism, and links careful empirical research to evolving state, societal and business norms and the character of China’s regime. A welcome addition to a fast-growing literature, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the mass media and political communication in China.» (Kevin J. O’Brien, Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley)
«After the Internet provides an authoritative guide to the huge, cantankerous, controlled, unruly, ever-surprising world of over 400 million Internet users in China. From the Chinese blogosphere to government efforts to impose harmony, from Party ideotainment to irrepressible spoofing (egao) and the political irreverence of the «grass mud horse» phenomenon, to the shapes of government vs. popular nationalism, and even the recent Google imbroglio, Lagervist gives an insightful account based on wide-ranging research and intelligent engagement with current scholarship. This will be the standard guide to understanding the Chinese Internet for years to come.» (Timothy Cheek, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia)
«(...) Johan Lagerkvist should be congratulated on producing this comprehensive and useful analysis of China’s Internet landscape. This timely book addresses the wide range of critical issues pertaining to the democratic implications of Internet development in China, and deserves to be widely read by anyone concerned about changes in Chinese politics, society, and culture today.» (Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, International Journal of China Studies)
«Lagerkvist offers a timely and rich analysis on the role of the Internet in China’s democratization process. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in China’s media landscape and her democratic future.» (Weiwei Zhang, International Journal of Communication 6, 2012)