||It is a key issue in the area of Internet studies that whether the Internet would expand/promote political participation, or inhibit it, or just strengthen the existing political structure. The purpose of this study is to analyze how the Internet could satisfy the expanding demanding of political participation in China, and thus expand the extent of political participation, and influence political development. By this study, with the target of a country with the largest number of Internet users, it is possible to understand the interactive relation among political context, Internet and political participation.|
In this study the analytic approach of “politics-media-politics” is applied, and the Internet, as a media/technology tool, is included in an interactive framework. In the political context of China, with expanding demanding of political participation and stagnant political institution, this study analyzes how the Internet influences the extent, form and results of political participation in three dimensions: Internet and political identity, Internet and social movements, and Internet and conventional politics. It is found that the influence of Internet on political participation is not only decided by technologies, buy also by the context of politics, society, economy and culture. The Internet in China has empowered politically to some groups, expanded the extent and form of political participation, and thus influenced the political participation significantly, and at last influenced the political development indirectly.
In particular, the Internet could reflect the existing diversification of political identity, activate off-line political, economic and social resources, or institutions. So the Internet could expand and promote political participation, but also is constrained by existing politics.