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In China today, the party-state increasingly penetrates commercial social media while aspiring to turn its own media agencies into platforms. Introducing the concept of state-sponsored platformization, Engaging Social Media in China, edited by my guest Guobin Yang and Wei WAng, shows the complexity behind the central role the party-state plays in shaping social media platforms. State-sponsored platformization, however, does not necessarily produce the Chinese Communist Party’s desired outcomes. Citizens continue to appropriate social media for creative public engagement at the same time as more people are managing their online settings to reduce or refuse connection, inducing new forms of crafted resistance to hyper-social media connectivity.
The wide-ranging essays presented in this volume explore the mobile radio service Ximalaya.FM, Alibaba’s evolution into a multi-platform ecosystem, livestreaming platforms, the role of Twitter in Trump’s North Korea diplomacy, user-generated content in the news media, social media art projects, and the reluctance to engage with WeChat, among other concerns. Ultimately, readers will find that the ten chapters in this volume contribute significant new research and insights to the fast-growing scholarship on social media in China at a time when online communication is increasingly constrained by international struggles over political control and privacy issues.
Guobin Yang is the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the Annenberg School for Communication and the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. There he directs the Center on Digital Culture and Society and serves as deputy director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China. He is the author of The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China (2016) and the award-winning book The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (2009). He is also the editor or coeditor of four other books, including Media Activism in the Digital Age (2017) and China's Contested Internet (2015).
Engaging Social Media in China: Platforms, Publics, and Production is available at msupress.org and other fine booksellers. Goubin is on Twitter @yangguobin. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.
The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo.
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