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The role of new media in sustaining the status quo: online political expression, nationalism, and system support in China

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As populist nationalism and criticism of government emerge from the Chinese online sphere, the potential influence of public engagement in online communication on Chinese politics has drawn much scholarly and media attention. To illuminate the role of user-generated online communication for political change, this study investigates how online political expression among Chinese Internet users relates to their nationalistic attitudes and support of the status quo. An analysis of survey data demonstrates that online political expression, facilitated by news consumption, enhances support for the existing sociopolitical system both directly and indirectly through nationalism. The results suggest that partial inclusion of the public in the online deliberation process serves to bolster system stability and legitimacy, as the Chinese Communist Party intends.
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Keywords: news use; political communication; social change; social media; system justification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Communications, Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401, USA 2: Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Republic of Korea

Publication date: July 3, 2015

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