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Internet Mediated NGO Activity: How Environmental NGOs use Weibo in China / MATTHEW COLLINS

Swansea University Author: MATTHEW COLLINS

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.63585

Abstract

This thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach that draws on both the political science and media and communication fields to analyse how Chinese environmental NGOs use the microblogging site, Sina Weibo, in their online activism. The study of NGOs and how they use the internet in China is widesprea...

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Published: Swansea, Wales, UK 2023
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Clarke, Gerard. and Wu, Yan.
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa63585
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Abstract: This thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach that draws on both the political science and media and communication fields to analyse how Chinese environmental NGOs use the microblogging site, Sina Weibo, in their online activism. The study of NGOs and how they use the internet in China is widespread. However, in many cases, the way that NGOs in China work, both online and offline, has been analysed through the lens of traditional civil society and internet studies literature, which has mostly focused on the ability of NGOs, and the internet, to give rise to significant political change, and even democratisation.Through a mixture of thematic, network, and organisational analysis, this thesis investigates the communicative functions, themes, and use of interactive features in posts on Weibo, including the use of hashtags, retweets and @mentions. At the organisational level, the ways that NGOs engage with different actors, both online and offline, including fellow NGOs, government departments, their followers, and potential donors are interrogated using four case studies. These analyses found that although the political space afforded to environmental NGOs in China is severely constrained, and the operations of the NGOs could not be seen as overtly activist or confrontational in the traditional sense, the NGOs do in fact retain a certain amount of autonomy and are able to carve out some political space for themselves. The findings of this thesis therefore challenge the notion that NGOs in China are co-opted organisations without autonomy from the state and suggests that there is scope for digital activism by NGOs in an authoritarian context, even though the online and offline political space they inhabit may be tightly regulated and controlled.
Item Description: A selection of third party content is redacted or is partially redacted from this thesis due to copyright restrictions.
Keywords: China, Environmental NGO, Weibo, Social Media, Environmental Activism
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences