Social Foundations of the Internet in China and the New Internet World: A Cross-National Comparative Perspective
China and the New Internet World, International Communication Association (ICA) Preconference, Oxford Internet Institute, June 2013
22 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2013 Last revised: 2 Dec 2015
Date Written: June 8, 2013
This paper provides evidence from survey research on the evolving attitudes, values, and patterns of use defining the New Internet World (NIW). The analysis focuses on China and other ‘emerging nations’ with similarly strong patterns of Internet diffusion, in comparison with the US and other nations that led the early development of the Internet. These findings lend support to previous research showing that new Internet users across the globe often share fundamental values and beliefs with users in more established Internet nations. For example, they are generally supportive of freedom of expression and online privacy, and concerned about governmental surveillance. However, users in newly adopting nations are often more innovative in content creation and social media uses, than users in nations that were the early leaders of Internet adoption. While Internet users in China are in line with other nations in their levels of political discussion and with respect to their views on government censorship and online monitoring, they are among the world’s leaders in online entertainment, leisure, and commerce. Given the support of Chinese users for the traditional values and attitudes underpinning the global Internet, the rise of China within the NIW may not lead to the kinds of changes in freedom of expression and privacy that might be expected on the basis of the rhetoric surrounding national policy.
Keywords: Internet, global, China, freedom of expression, users, values, attitudes
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