||The purpose of the study is to examine whether the technology of emerging communication shapes the development of society. Or on the contrary, if the established society, with its politics, economics and other aspects still impact the development of mass communication. How the actors such as Chinese government and netizens, which act among the technology of emerging communication, interact within the cyberspace in the established society? |
In response to this question, this study focuses on an authoritarian regime of China using the historical approach to review the collective behavior initiated by Internet users from traditional media to social media. How does the leadership change its thought about the ideology of the mass media? What factors will compel netizens to initiate protests through social media? How do they interact and bargain with each other within the process of the protests in the cyberspace?
This study is based on the perspective of networked authoritarianism, and reviews the key cases from email, Internet forum (including Bulletin Board System, BBS), blog and weibo. As a result of, this study constructs a framework of “Sensitivity – Risk”, and then selects the illustrative cases which are consistent with the framework. The research demonstrates the generalized logic of interaction between the Chinese government and the netizens. This mode of interaction might become a crucial factor to foster the chang of Chinese society in the future.
The findings of this study is that actors working in the traditional media represent the ideological collective of the nation as a whole, however actors in social media become decentralized individuals who can utilize their techniques of internet to bargain with Chinese government and to challenge the established structure of society in the future. Nevertheless, whether the existing social system can be changed or not, it still depends on the outlook of the Chinese government towards the actions of these decentralized individuals. Thus, returning to the core of this study: will the emerging technology of communications become a key factor to foster the social change or not? Or will the established social structure shape the development of technology? This study argues that the communication technology will certainly lead the actors to change the existing institution, but the inherent political, economic or social factors also affect the development of communication technology; the mode of interaction will deliberately shape and reshape the society and bring about the social change, but slowly.