Online Network Size, Efficacy, and Opinion Expression: Assessing the Impacts of Internet Use in China

Posted: 8 Dec 2009

See all articles by Fei Shen

Fei Shen

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK); Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Ning Wang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zhongshi Guo

Independent

Liang Guo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: Winter 2009

Abstract

The severe internet censorship implemented in China naturally raises substantial doubt about the potential democratic functions of the internet. This study presents some initial empirical evidence for internet use's impact on online opinion expression in Mainland China by analyzing three survey datasets collected by the World Internet Project in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Results reveal a positive relationship between internet use and online expression. The positive association is partially mediated by online network size, but not necessarily by internet efficacy. Although government censorship has in a measure successfully stifled people's; willingness to speak out, it is argued that the networking function of the internet could still bring incremental changes to the Chinese society through constructing loosely structured networks.

Suggested Citation

Shen, Fei and Wang, Ning and Guo, Zhongshi and Guo, Liang, Online Network Size, Efficacy, and Opinion Expression: Assessing the Impacts of Internet Use in China (Winter 2009). International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 21, Issue 4, pp. 451-476, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1518795 or http://dx.doi.org/edp046

Fei Shen (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ning Wang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zhongshi Guo

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Liang Guo

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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