Research event

Online political talk in China: What do citizens make of censored political discourse?

A presentation by Daniela Stockmann and Ting Luo, Hertie School. This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium.

Online political discourse has been found to place pressure on governments. On one hand, people argue that such pressure poses a potential threat for democracy. On the other hand, such pressure can also bring about social change and foster democracy. This paper examines the first nationally representative survey on informal political talk in China to investigate who discusses politics online and face-to-face and how citizens perceive space for online compared to face-to-face political discourse under authoritarian rule. We find that Chinese netizens are surprisingly active in talking about politics and tend to perceive online discussion more diverse than offline space, pointing towards the internet’s role of increasing political engagement rather than diluting it. Our findings have implications for understanding information political talk and the role of the internet and particularly social media for political change.

This new research colloquium is a joint initiative of the Hertie School's Digital Governance Centre and the Data Science Lab. It brings together Hertie School's research community in the areas of digital governance, digital government and data science. It offers a forum for debating research on key issues of current research related to questions of digital governance, digital government and AI with an interdisciplinary audience.