January 26, 2018 / Laura Vermeeren

Platform Protest in China: A Lecture with Guobin Yang in Amsterdam on February 6

Chinese citizens increasingly use major social media platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo, for everything: from booking a show to making new friends, and from exchanging information to gossiping. Should we see these platforms as democratic practices or are they a new form of authoritarianism?

Frequently, the exchanges that take place through such platforms also touch on contentious issues, such as freedom of speech, political and corporate corruption, and the rising levels of air pollution. This vibrant online protest culture, characterised by mass user activity and the rapid circulation of memes and virals, is particularly interesting, as it take shape in a country characterised by far-reaching state control over online communication. Professor Guobin Yang will discuss this paradoxical combination of ubiquitous surveillance and intense online protest. Can we observe emerging proto-democratic practices or a new form of authoritarianism?

A panel of experts consisting of Florian Schneider (Leiden University),  Manya Koetse (Leiden University and founder/editor of www.whatsonweibo.com), Samuel Lengen (Utrecht University), Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam) and Thomas Poell (University of Amsterdam) will respond to the lecture.

About the speakers

Guobin Yang is a Professor of Communication and Sociology at the Annenberg School for Communication and Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also a faculty member of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China and Center for East Asian Studies. His research areas cover digital media and critical social theory, global communication, social movements, activist media, cultural sociology, and media and politics in China.


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