Safety Valve or Pressure Cooker? Blogs in Chinese Political Life

Journal of Communication, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr. 2012), 212-230

26 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 16 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jonathan Hassid

Jonathan Hassid

Iowa State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Despite censorship, Chinese bloggers routinely uncover corruption, help solve social problems, and even pressure state officials to change foreign policy. The power of online opinion is undisputed in individual cases, but the overall effect of blog discourse on the Chinese polity is unclear. Do blogs act as a social “safety valve” forestalling systemic change by allowing troublemakers to vent their frustrations, or do they resemble a “pressure cooker,” inspiring action offline by groups of like-minded activists? Using a large-scale content analysis and small-scale case studies, I argue that blogs can serve as a “safety valve” on issues where newspapers and the mainstream media set the agenda, and a “pressure cooker” on issues where bloggers get ahead of journalists.

Keywords: Chinese politics, blogs, agenda setting, Chinese media, social change

Suggested Citation

Hassid, Jonathan, Safety Valve or Pressure Cooker? Blogs in Chinese Political Life (2012). Journal of Communication, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr. 2012), 212-230 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1899941

Jonathan Hassid (Contact Author)

Iowa State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ames, IA 50011
United States

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