Social media use and political participation in rural China: A case study

Xuan TANG, Yang ZHOU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Among the few studies conducted on political participation in China,most, if not all, provided an urban-centric picture of participation with both Internet-based debate on certain topics or offline movement on a specific issue.Little attention is paid to the role social media use which might play in rural politics in China. This paper takes it from here and looks at how factory nongmingong in China use social media to participate in rural politics, as well as the relationship between such use and political participation.We employ a processual approach to rural politics where rural politics is viewed as the interaction between individual participant and the structural forces,cultural or political, that comprise the current cultural nexus of power within the enlarged social landscape of rural politics. We will in this process examine the participation of their perception of rural politics, expression as well as action. By interviews and participant observation among nongmingong in this villa,ge, we demonstrated that their perception of the factory culture, the time limits imposed by the factory, and extant social networks on social media and the renting and mianzi principles attached to it are three important cultural forces shaping both their political use of social media and the observed political participation. The very affordance of friends and group chats offered by WeChat, when adopted by them, in our case, play a central role in this process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-238
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • social media
  • political participation
  • China
  • factory nongmingong
  • grassroots governance


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