The Web of Meaning: The Internet in a Changing Chinese Society
Published: March 2021© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 200 Pages
Illustrations: 12 figures
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.25
200 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.70 in, 12 figures
Taking off at the height of China’s socio-economic reforms in the mid-1990s, the Internet developed alongside the twists and turns of the country’s rapid transformation. Central to many aspects of social change, the Internet has played an indispensable role in the decentralization of political communication, the expansion of the market, and the stratification of society in China.
Through three empirical cases – online privacy, cyber-nationalism, and the network market – this book traces how different social actors engage in negotiation of the practices, social relations, and power structures that define these evolving institutions in Chinese society. Examining rich user-generated social media data with innovative methods such as semantic network analysis and topic modelling, The Web of Meaning provides a solid empirical base to critique for critiquing the power relationships that are embedded in the very fibre of Chinese society.
1. The Internet and Social Change in China
2. The Rise of the Internet as Symbolic Space
3. Assembling Network Privacy
4. Articulating Cyber-nationalism
5. Constructing the Network Market
"Developing a new theoretical approach for understanding the impact of Internet technologies and communication in China, The Web of Meaning offers an innovative and insightful analysis of concrete but important aspects of the Chinese Internet landscape. Elaine J. Yuan shows convincingly how a field perspective enables a more pluralistic and relational understanding of Chinese digital spaces."Guobin Yang, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
"Not only is The Web of Meaning of theoretical originality, but it is also a timely intervention in the current academic debate around the social, cultural, and political implications of networked communication, in China and beyond. Elaine J. Yuan’s framework critiques the dominant Habermasian model of the public sphere by emphasizing the contested nature of online discourses and the mutual constitution of the social and the symbolic. The empirical foci of the investigation are equally well defined, namely network privacy, cyber-nationalism, and the network market."Bingchun Meng, Associate Professor of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science