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Regulating Social Media in China

Foucauldian Governmentality and the Public Sphere

Bei Guo

Regulating Social Media in China: Foucauldian Governmentality and the Public Sphere is the first in-depth study to apply the Foucauldian notion of governmentality to China’s field of social media. This book provokes readers to contemplate the democratizing potential of social media in China. By deploying Foucault’s theory of governmentality as an explanatory framework, author Bei Guo explores the seemingly paradoxical relationship of the Chinese party-state to the expansion of social media platforms. Guo argues that the Chinese government has several interests in promoting community participation and engagement through the internet platform Weibo, including extending the presence of its own agencies on Weibo while simultaneously controlling the discourse in many important ways. This book provides an important corrective to overly sanguine accounts that social media promotes a Habermasian public sphere along liberal democratic lines. It demonstrates how China, as an authoritarian country, responds to its citizens’ voracious hunger for information and regulates this by carefully adopting both liberal and authoritarian techniques.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Guo, Bei, author. Title: Regulating social media in China: Foucauldian governmentality and the public sphere / Bei Guo. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2018. Includes bibliographical references. Identifiers: LCCN 2018014109 | ISBN 978-1-4331-5271-9 (hardback: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-5708-0 (ebook pdf) | ISBN 978-1-4331-5709-7 (epub) ISBN 978-1-4331-5710-3 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Internet—Social aspects—China. Internet—Government policy—China. Social media—China. Social media—Government policy—China. Classification: LCC HN740.Z9 I56737 2018 | DDC 302.23/10951—dc23 LC record available at DOI 10.3726/b14041 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2018 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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