Social Media and Collective Action in China

CEPR working paper, DP16731

56 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2022

See all articles by Bei Qin

Bei Qin

Hong Kong Baptist University

David Strömberg

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Yanhui Wu

University of Hong Kong; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 3, 2021

Abstract

This paper studies how social media affect protest dynamics in China during 2009-2017. Based on 13.2 billion microblog posts, we use tweets and retweets to measure social media communication across cities and exploit its rapid expansion for identification. We find that despite strict government control, Chinese social media have a sizeable effect on the geographic spread of protests and strikes. While the spread effect is short-lived and predominantly between similar events, social media considerably increase the scope of protests. Further empirical results and textual analysis show that the effect is likely to be driven by tacit coordination and emotional reactions rather than explicit coordination and sharing tactics. Our study sheds light on the debate regarding whether social media help strengthen authoritarian regimes.

Keywords: social media, collective action, information networks, protests, strikes, China

JEL Classification: D74, D83, H70, L82, P20

Suggested Citation

Qin, Bei and Strömberg, David and Wu, Yanhui, Social Media and Collective Action in China (December 3, 2021). CEPR working paper, DP16731, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3976832 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3976832

Bei Qin

Hong Kong Baptist University ( email )

Department of Economics
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

David Strömberg (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+46 816 4376 (Phone)
+46 816 1443 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Yanhui Wu

University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
63
Abstract Views
171
rank
479,050
PlumX Metrics