Book Reviews

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Book Review: The Evolution of the Chinese Internet: Creative Visibility in the Digital Age. New Media & Society, 24(1), 246-251. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448211062079

[Download the accepted author version here!]

Abstract

Many political communication studies about China focus on a “repressive state vs. resistant society” contrast. In this dichotomy, “the state” always imposes its oppression through censorship and propaganda, while “the civil society” constantly pursues its liberation by expressing dissent. Against this backdrop, in The Evolution of the Chinese Internet, Shaohua Guo presents the “network of visibility” model as a new framework to examine the Chinese political communication landscape. Centering the dynamic negotiations among actors sharing a pursuit of market popularity and content authority, the network of visibility model troubles the “state vs. civil society” dichotomy by allowing scholars to critically examine the roles played by the government, media, internet platforms, and numerous individual players. This approach enables a nuanced depiction of discursive struggles on the Chinese internet and reveals a wider variety of ideological interpellations, such as the neoliberal ideologies of consumerism and social Darwinism, in addition to the cliche of pro-regime propaganda.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Book Review: The Media Manifesto. Information, Communication & Society, Advanced Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2022.2055485

[Download the accepted author version here!]

Abstract

While local communities’ power in fostering healthy democracy has been repeatedly demonstrated by social science research (e.g., Achen & Bartels, 2017; Putnam, 2001), media and communication studies, to a large extent, still harp on mainstream media and giant social media platforms. Scholars fault Silicon Valley for giving wings to fake news and extreme voices, while reminiscing about the good old days when different families sat in front of the television every evening watching the same national news. The Media Manifesto confronts such tendencies. Natalie Fenton, Des Freedman, Justin Schlosberg, and Lina Dencik each write a chapter dissecting current challenges the global media system faces and then jointly propose an action plan to tackle them. They articulate a vision of media and data justice that surpasses both our bleak reality and the gilded old days, a revolutionary imagination of the future and a utopia that can become real.