Understanding online citizenship practices of Chinese young adults

All Abstracts > Understanding online citizenship practices of Chinese young adults

Understanding online citizenship practices of Chinese young adults 

Author | Affiliation:
Jun Fu | Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne

Presenting at:
Panel 2C | China’s techno-social realities and futures


With 854 million users, the internet in China is playing an increasingly important role in the everyday lives of Chinese citizens. Studies of the Chinese internet thus expanded its early focus on political and social events of certain user groups in order to examine people’s everyday use of internet (Marolt & Herold, 2014; Meng, 2010). Scholarship of young Chinese people’s everyday online activities has documented spectacular cultural phenomena such as E-Gao (Meng, 2011; Yu & Xu, 2016) and Diaosi (Yang, Tang, & Wang, 2014) produced by young Chinese, as well as their engagement with different online communities (Yang, 2015). Few of these studies, however examined their online activities from citizenship practice perspective. The significance of their online participation for their learning and performance of identity in online communities, as well as their formation and enactment of subjectivity in these communities remains largely unexplored.  

This paper examines Chinese young people’s online activities from the lens of social and cultural citizenship. Drawing on qualitative data collected from 31 young Chinese adults through online observation and internet-based interviews, it examines from their perspective, the meaning of online participation for their citizenship practices. By delineating the significance of young people’s online activities for their citizenship learning, identity performance, and subjectivity formation, it proposes a three dimensional model for understanding young people’s online citizenship practices, and argues that these everyday practices provide a stage on which young people project, forge and enact new forms of citizenship.   


Marolt, P., & Herold, D. K. (2014). China online: Locating society in online spaces: Routledge. 

Meng, B. (2010). Moving beyond democratization: A thought piece on the China Internet research agenda. International journal of communication, 4, 501-508.  

Meng, B. (2011). From steamed bun to grass mud horse: E Gao as alternative political discourse on the Chinese Internet. Global media and communication, 7(1), 33-51.  

Yang, G. (2015). China’s Contested Internet: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press. 

Yang, P., Tang, L., & Wang, X. (2014). Diaosi as infrapolitics: scatological tropes, identity-making and cultural intimacy on China’s Internet. Media, Culture & Society, 37(2), 197-214.  

Yu, H., & Xu, J. (2016). E’gao as a networked digital leisure practice in China. In S. Carnicelli, D. McGillivray & G. McPherson (Eds.), Digital Leisure Cultures: Critical perspectives (pp. 152-165). 

About the author

Jun Fu

Email: eric.fu@unimelb.edu.au

Dr Jun Fu is a Research Fellow at the Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. His research interests include digital media, citizenship practices of young people, and media and digital literacy education. He has published in journals and edited book collections in the field of youth studies and citizenship education.

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