Social Media in the People's Republic of China: the network governance perspective

  • CHIN, Yik Chan (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will investigate the implications of social media for media policy and regulation. The research will address two sets of issues: first, the development of the Chinese national communication and information technology regulatory policy amid the lack of effectiveness and accountability of state and legal regulation in the social media environment; secondly, the network form of governance of social media in China. Instead of seeing regulation solely as a top-down imposition of law and control by the state, this research project proposes to approach the subject of social media regulation critically, and adopts the theory of network governance (NG) in analysing the complex regulation of social media in China. This is because NG reflects a changing relationship between state and society in which social problems are solved through multisectional collaboration between the state and private actors and states increasingly rely on the cooperation of stakeholders to mobilize fragmented resources to realise favourable outcomes. NG is pertinent to Chinese governance since the incremental change from government control (guanzhi) to public management (guanli) and to network governance (zhili) in China. It is pertinent to Chinese social media governance because legal and state regulation have been either poorly enforced or lacking in accountability, and self- regulation and collaboration between state, non-state organisations and industry in governing social media have been called. And NG provides one possible way of connecting state institutions with civil society organisations (CSOs). This research study will use a case study method, and locating its study on the CSO actor, namely the Beijing Internet Association (BIA). It will examine the networks BIA has established with other institutional actors in Chinese social media network governance. The BIA was founded in 2004 as a government-recognised CSO. It was the first local internet CSO with the aim of establishing a self-regulatory system and of connecting the Internet companies with government departments. The research aims to explore the questions of the nature of networks between private and state actors; the patterns of private-state collaborations; and the distributions of benefits and power in the network governance of social media in China.
Effective start/end date1/09/1528/02/17


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