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University of Pennsylvania PressChapter Title: The Coevolution of the Internet, (Un)Civil Society, and Authoritarianism in China Chapter Author(s): Min JiangBook Title: The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China Book Editor(s): Jacques deLisle, Avery Goldstein, Guobin Yang Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press. (2016) Stable URL: is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a widerange of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity andfacilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at of Pennsylvania Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing ChinaThis content downloaded from on Tue, 24 Apr 2018 03:45:51 UTC All use subject to C H A P T E R 1The Coevolution of the Internet, (Un)CivilSociety, and Authoritarianism in ChinaMin JiangTh is chapter extends Guobin Yang’s 2003 seminal article on the coevolution of the Internet and civil society in China.1 It argues the Internet has facili- tated, on the one hand, the coevolution of Chinese civic spaces and authori- tarian control, and, on the other, the coevolution of civic activities and uncivil interactions. Th e Internet has not only helped amplify civic discourses and group formations; it has also augmented the infl uence of uncivil exchanges online, leading to a greater degree of fragmentation and cynicism of public opinion. Although social media platforms such as the Twitter- like Sina Weibo can serve as a critical space for expressing and channeling public opinion, they are unlikely to be the ultimate game changer.In charting the new terrain of China’s online civic spaces, the chapter focuses on four aspects: (1) real- time activism; (2) online po liti cal jamming; (3) weibo celebrities; and (4) the rise of an “uncivil society” online. I explore conditions and instances of “real- time” activism; the use of cultural jamming and “serious parody” for po liti cal activism; the role of weibo celebrities in fos- tering plurality and fragmentation; and the uncivil ideological discourse exchanges that have led to public brawls in the street and pop u lar rejection of “public intellectuals.” In contrast, to curb the po liti cal consequences of new forms of mediated activism, the control regime has implemented a variety of new mea sures besides fi ltering and employment of pro- government com- mentators to forestall or pacify collective actions, including real name regis- tration policy and anti- rumor campaigns.This content downloaded from on Tue, 24 Apr 2018 03:45:51 UTC All use subject to The Coevolution of the Internet 29Th e chapter argues positive development of online public spaces in China relies as much on institutional politics to eff ectively channel public opinion as it does on identity politics and progressive changes in subjectivity through everyday life interactions. While the Internet mediates such negotiations and is increasingly indispensable to the parties involved, it does not determine their outcomes. Th e contextualized use of the Internet and new media, shaped by the social, cultural, and po liti cal protocols surrounding such technologies, ultimately does.


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