Communicating the Right to Know:Social Media in the Do-It-Yourself Air Quality Testing Campaign in Chinese Cities

Janice Hua Xu


This paper studies the role of social media in the do-it-yourself air quality testing initiatives in multiple cities in China, through interviews with leaders of small NGOs and analyses of their blogging contents. To advocate for more accuracy and transparency in pollution data, environmental NGOs mobilized volunteers to measure air quality and post the results online. The paper examines how the DIY activism, assisted by the internet, constitutes citizen participation and political involvement through informal and diffused ways of collective action. The paper also studies how a combination of online and offline activities contributes to the networking process and the creation of a community, though temporary and fragile, and discusses the mobile nature of grassroots environmental activism in urban China.


internet activism; do-it-yourself; air pollution; social media; grassroots organizations; civil society; microblogging

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