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The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics

Yan Wu Orcid Logo, Matthew Wall Orcid Logo

New Media & Society, Volume: 21, Issue: 8, Pages: 1714 - 1733

Swansea University Authors: Yan Wu Orcid Logo, Matthew Wall Orcid Logo

Abstract

Despite the market dominance of the 'WeChat' app in today's China, we currently know little about its significance for contentious politics. This paper argues that MIMAs facilitate communication within relatively strong tie networks (compared to conventional Social Network Sites) whic...

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Published in: New Media & Society
ISSN: 1461-4448 1461-7315
Published: SAGE 2019
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa48613
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spelling 2021-09-02T09:45:36.5861646 v2 48613 2019-01-29 The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics fcb0b08dd7afa00f6899a02d4cb66fff 0000-0002-5741-6862 Yan Wu Yan Wu true false 22914658d586a5759d4d4b945ea140bd 0000-0001-8265-4910 Matthew Wall Matthew Wall true false 2019-01-29 AMED Despite the market dominance of the 'WeChat' app in today's China, we currently know little about its significance for contentious politics. This paper argues that MIMAs facilitate communication within relatively strong tie networks (compared to conventional Social Network Sites) which prior research indicates is potentially consequential for patterns of contentious political engagement. Drawing on evidence from a series of Chinese WeChat-user focus groups, we reveal that these ‘chat apps’ create spaces where, although users are often connected through strong ties offline, contentious politics rarely manifests. This trend is driven by a range of dynamics, which we elaborate in a theoretically-informed thematic analysis. When contentious politics does emerge, it is reported by our focus group participants to be largely confined to matters of ‘pragmatic’ and/or ‘safe’ politics that concern defending the interests of individuals or discrete groups, but do not challenge the wider political system. Journal Article New Media & Society 21 8 1714 1733 SAGE 1461-4448 1461-7315 Digital Political Communication; Contentious Politics; Mobile Instant Messaging Applications; China; WeChat; Social Networks; Strong and Weak Ties; Guanxi 31 12 2019 2019-12-31 10.1177/1461444819830072 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444819830072?journalCode=nmsa COLLEGE NANME Media COLLEGE CODE AMED Swansea University 2021-09-02T09:45:36.5861646 2019-01-29T11:07:30.0882562 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences School of Culture and Communication - Media, Communications, Journalism and PR Yan Wu 0000-0002-5741-6862 1 Matthew Wall 0000-0001-8265-4910 2 0048613-05032019122504.pdf 48813v2.pdf 2019-03-05T12:25:04.0030000 Output 539527 application/pdf Accepted Manuscript true 2019-03-04T00:00:00.0000000 true eng
title The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
spellingShingle The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
Yan Wu
Matthew Wall
title_short The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
title_full The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
title_fullStr The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
title_full_unstemmed The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
title_sort The ties that bind: How the dominance of WeChat combines with guanxi to inhibit and constrain China’s contentious politics
author_id_str_mv fcb0b08dd7afa00f6899a02d4cb66fff
22914658d586a5759d4d4b945ea140bd
author_id_fullname_str_mv fcb0b08dd7afa00f6899a02d4cb66fff_***_Yan Wu
22914658d586a5759d4d4b945ea140bd_***_Matthew Wall
author Yan Wu
Matthew Wall
author2 Yan Wu
Matthew Wall
format Journal article
container_title New Media & Society
container_volume 21
container_issue 8
container_start_page 1714
publishDate 2019
institution Swansea University
issn 1461-4448
1461-7315
doi_str_mv 10.1177/1461444819830072
publisher SAGE
college_str Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
hierarchytype
hierarchy_top_id facultyofhumanitiesandsocialsciences
hierarchy_top_title Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
hierarchy_parent_id facultyofhumanitiesandsocialsciences
hierarchy_parent_title Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
department_str School of Culture and Communication - Media, Communications, Journalism and PR{{{_:::_}}}Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences{{{_:::_}}}School of Culture and Communication - Media, Communications, Journalism and PR
url https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444819830072?journalCode=nmsa
document_store_str 1
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description Despite the market dominance of the 'WeChat' app in today's China, we currently know little about its significance for contentious politics. This paper argues that MIMAs facilitate communication within relatively strong tie networks (compared to conventional Social Network Sites) which prior research indicates is potentially consequential for patterns of contentious political engagement. Drawing on evidence from a series of Chinese WeChat-user focus groups, we reveal that these ‘chat apps’ create spaces where, although users are often connected through strong ties offline, contentious politics rarely manifests. This trend is driven by a range of dynamics, which we elaborate in a theoretically-informed thematic analysis. When contentious politics does emerge, it is reported by our focus group participants to be largely confined to matters of ‘pragmatic’ and/or ‘safe’ politics that concern defending the interests of individuals or discrete groups, but do not challenge the wider political system.
published_date 2019-12-31T03:56:55Z
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