Withering Gongzhi: Cyber Criticism of Chinese Public Intellectuals

The International Journal of Communication 12 (2018): 1966-1987

36 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018 Last revised: 13 May 2018


This article explores why the term “public intellectual” has turned into a disgraceful label in Chinese cyberspace. Through examining how netizens have constructed the negative perception of “public intellectuals,” it shows that the Internet has not only empowered regime critics, but also promoted pluralization of expression by bringing different values, beliefs and identities into contact with an unprecedented frequency and intensity. The denigration of public intellectuals illustrates the contestation between digitally expressed civility and incivility, which has yet to be sufficiently discussed. Findings in this study also suggest that “authoritarian resilience” depends on the regime’s adaptability as well as the dynamics between its supporters and challengers.

Keywords: cyber politics, public intellectuals, discourse competition, China, authoritarian resilience, gongzhi

Suggested Citation

Han, Rongbin, Withering Gongzhi: Cyber Criticism of Chinese Public Intellectuals. The International Journal of Communication 12 (2018): 1966-1987, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3151876

Rongbin Han (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

322 Candler Hall
Athens, GA Georgia 30602-6254
United States

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