The Other Digital China: Nonconfrontational Activism on the Social Web

The Other Digital China: Nonconfrontational Activism on the Social Web

by Jing Wang

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Overview

A scholar and activist tells the story of change makers operating within the Chinese Communist system, whose ideas of social action necessarily differ from those dominant in Western, liberal societies.

The Chinese government has increased digital censorship under Xi Jinping. Why? Because online activism works; it is perceived as a threat in halls of power. In The Other Digital China, Jing Wang, a scholar at MIT and an activist in China, shatters the view that citizens of nonliberal societies are either brainwashed or complicit, either imprisoned for speaking out or paralyzed by fear. Instead, Wang shows the impact of a less confrontational kind of activism. Whereas Westerners tend to equate action with open criticism and street revolutions, Chinese activists are building an invisible and quiet coalition to bring incremental progress to their society.

Many Chinese change makers practice nonconfrontational activism. They prefer to walk around obstacles rather than break through them, tactfully navigating between what is lawful and what is illegitimate. The Other Digital China describes this massive gray zone where NGOs, digital entrepreneurs, university students, IT companies like Tencent and Sina, and tech communities operate. They study the policy winds in Beijing, devising ways to press their case without antagonizing a regime where taboo terms fluctuate at different moments. What emerges is an ever-expanding networked activism on a grand scale. Under extreme ideological constraints, the majority of Chinese activists opt for neither revolution nor inertia. They share a mentality common in China: rules are meant to be bent, if not resisted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674980921
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 12/10/2019
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jing Wang is Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies, S. C. Fang Professor of Chinese Language and Culture, and Director of the New Media Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, the National Humanities Center, and the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, and is a recipient of the Overseas Distinguished Professor Award given by China’s Ministry of Education. She is the Founder and Secretary General of NGO2.0, a nonprofit in China specializing in technology-driven and social media–powered activism, and is the author of Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture (Harvard); The Story of Stone; and High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Deng’s China.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Walking Around the Obstacles 1

1 Nonconfrontational Activism and the Chinese "Social" 35

2 NGO2.0 and Social Media Activism: Activist as Researcher 66

3 WeChat versus Weibo: Microblogging and Peer-to-Peer Philanthropy 96

4 Millennial as Change Agents on the Social Web 136

5 Makers and Tech4Good Culture 170

6 Participatory Action Research and the Chinese Challenge 197

Conclusion: Between Star Trek and Brave New World? 225

Notes 249

Bibliography 263

Acknowledgments 295

Index 298

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