New Media Practices in China: Youth Patterns, Processes, and Politics

Cara Wallis


This article examines the dynamics of new media in China with an emphasis on youth uses and practices. While much attention has been devoted to the government’s regime of censorship and control, this review takes a cultural approach, drawing from a range of academic and popular sources to examine how various practices, discourses, relationships, and representations have been articulated to new media technologies in China. After providing background on China’s demographic and telecommunications landscape, the discussion covers networked community and identity, gaming, networked public sphere and civic engagement, and new media prosumption. The review shows that diverse new media practices emerge in China within the tensions and contradictions of the government’s desire to simultaneously expand new media technologies and control what are perceived as “harmful” influences. Within a highly commercialized and more liberalized sociocultural environment, new media technologies have opened up new spaces for multiple modes of expression, and as such, they are constitutive of complex processes of social change in China.

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