Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Talking to Strangers: Chinese Youth develop a new public sphere - Tricia Wang

Tricia Wang
+Tricia Wang 
Sociologist Tricia Wang explains in her PhD how Chinese youth develop a new public sphere, away from old concepts as blood ties and guanxi.Talking to Strangers: Chinese Youth and Social Media, based on years of field study, and a painstaking writing process was published earlier this week.

Tricia Wang:
My research reveals that by creating an Elastic Self, Chinese youth find ways to connect to each other and to establish a web of casual trust that extends beyond particularistic guanxi ties and authoritarian institutions. To be clear, this new form of sociality gives youth a way to navigate Chinese society, not to disconnect from or to rebel against it. In doing so, youth are building the infrastructure of a civil society by establishing relationships in which they start out as strangers, thereby bypassing potentially restrictive social labels and structures that could otherwise prevent connection. Through semi-anonymous informal interactions, Chinese youth are primarily seeking to discover their own social world and to create emotional connections—not grand political change. Rather than attempting to revolutionize politics, Chinese youth are using these new forms of social engagement to revolutionize their relationships with themselves and each other. 
Even though Chinese youth do not feel that internet censorship is a hindrance in their everyday lives, real name identification policies that limit communication to formal interactions threatens the viability of crucial informal online spaces where Chinese youth have been able to freely explore their identities. The future of the Chinese internet and Chinese society at large rests in this very tension that Chinese youth are negotiating between finding informal spaces where they can present an Elastic Self and formal spaces where they feel compelled to present a prescribed identity. The social and emotional changes catalyzed by the Elastic Self can only persist if the circumstances that allow them to flourish remain unencumbered.
You can read the full abstract here, with links to the PdD. 

More links to her earlier stories and speeches, you can find here.  

Tricia Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´request form.

Are you a media representative and you want to talk to one of our speakers? Do drop us a line.
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