Nationalism for Sale? Transnational Capital, Gender Politics, and Policing the Patriots in Digital Platform

Sara Liao, Lin Sun


This study investigates the intersection of digital nationalism, platform economy, geopolitics, and gender dynamics, particularly sexist and misogynistic cultures online, in contemporary China. We focus on the mediated nationalism writ largely on the digital platform Weibo, where the Internet public actively contests the meaning of patriotism in connection with transnational capital in a gendered, sexist, and racialized way. By analyzing an Internet dispute between six self-branded patriotic influencers and other users on Weibo, we demonstrate how the political economy of digital platforms complicates the understanding of nationalism and the construction of “true” patriotic subjects. In unpacking this controversy, we argue that gender politics are deeply embedded in the construction of the ideal subject of the nation, where misogynistic discourses are part and parcel of the patriarchal structure of nationalism. In addition, the Internet public is actively appropriating the technological and discursive affordances of the digital platform to use nationalism for sale and to fight for the discursive authority of being a patriot.


digital nationalism, nation for sale, gender politics, political economy of platforms, attention economy, China

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