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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; Matthew Wall

New Media & Society, Start page: 146144481983007

Swansea University Author: Wu, Yan

Abstract

WeChat is the most popular multi-purpose messaging and social media application in China, and has been gaining global popularity ever since its official release in 2011. Building upon mostly strong social ties, WeChat enables people-centred communicative networks which, as prior research indicates,...

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Published in: New Media & Society
ISSN: 1461-4448 1461-7315
Published: SAGE 2019
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa48813
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Abstract: WeChat is the most popular multi-purpose messaging and social media application in China, and has been gaining global popularity ever since its official release in 2011. Building upon mostly strong social ties, WeChat enables people-centred communicative networks which, as prior research indicates, could lead to active civic engagement or even contentious political activism. To examine the impact of WeChat use on civic participation, we gathered data from focus groups conducted with Chinese citizens living in the UK. Findings suggest that although WeChat users are often connected through offline networks, contentious politics manifests on the app only under a very narrow range of circumstances. Civic activities on WeChat, if there were any, often gear towards largely ‘interest-oriented’ and/or ‘safe’ topics that do not challenge the wider political system. The unique combination of Chinese political and cultural dynamics focusing on guanxi on WeChat provides more insight into the understanding of social ties and civic engagement in the Chinese context.
Keywords: Digital Political Communication; Contentious Politics; Mobile Instant Messaging Applications; China; WeChat; Social Networks; Strong and Weak Ties; Guanxi.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Start Page: 146144481983007