Managing the Micro-Self: The Governmentality of Real Name Registration Policy in Chinese Microblogosphere

Jiang, M. & Zhao, K. Managing the micro-self: Governmentality of real name registration policy in Chinese microblogosphere. Information, Communication & Society (Forthcoming)

20 Pages Posted: 15 May 2014 Last revised: 14 Aug 2018

See all articles by Min Jiang

Min Jiang

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte

Kang Zhao

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Date Written: January 15, 2014

Abstract

This paper investigates the real name registration (RNR) policy introduced by Chinese authorities in 2011 to regulate its vibrant microblogosphere by encouraging users to manage their “micro-self.” Foucault’s concept of governmentality is adopted to understand how the Chinese state “governs at a distance” its colossal microblog population through technologies of the state and technologies of the self. We provide a critical case study of the governmentality of RNR policy in Chinese microblogosphere by detailing the broad range of user experiences based on 22 in-depth interviews conducted in 2012 and 2013 with users and weibo editors. Shedding a new light on the practices of Chinese Internet regulation through the perspective of governmentality, we challenge the notion of the Chinese state as an omnipotent agent, contest popular media’s portrayal of the Chinese microblog subject as either obedient or resistant, and foreground the importance of Internet firms in mediating the negotiation between the state and users.

Keywords: Microblog, Weibo, Real name registration, Governmentality, Self-expression, Censorship, Identity, Anonymity, Chinese Internet, Sina, Tencent, Policy

Suggested Citation

Jiang, Min and Zhao, Kang, Managing the Micro-Self: The Governmentality of Real Name Registration Policy in Chinese Microblogosphere (January 15, 2014). Jiang, M. & Zhao, K. Managing the micro-self: Governmentality of real name registration policy in Chinese microblogosphere. Information, Communication & Society (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2436922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2436922

Min Jiang (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte ( email )

9201 University City Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28223
United States

Kang Zhao

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) ( email )

Beijing, 100732
China

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