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Structuring the State’s Voice of Contention in Harmonious Society: How Party Newspapers Cover Social Protests in China

LU, CHENG (2024) Structuring the State’s Voice of Contention in Harmonious Society: How Party Newspapers Cover Social Protests in China. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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During the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) campaign of building a ‘harmonious society’, how do the official newspapers cover the instances of social contention on the ground? Answering this question will shed light not only on how the party press works but also on how the state and the society interact in today’s China. This thesis conceptualises this phenomenon with a multi-faceted and multi-levelled notion of ‘state-initiated contentious public sphere’ to capture the complexity of mediated relations between the state and social contention in the party press. Adopting a relational approach, this thesis analyses 1758 news reports of ‘mass incident’ in the People’s Daily and the Guangming Daily between 2004 and 2020, employing cluster analysis, qualitative comparative analysis, and social network analysis. The thesis finds significant differences in the patterns of contentious coverage in the party press at the level of event and province and an uneven distribution of attention to social contention across incidents and regions. For ‘reported regions’, the thesis distinguishes four types of coverage and presents how party press responds differently to social contention in different scenarios at the provincial level. For ‘identified incidents’, the thesis distinguishes a cumulative type of visibility based on the quantity of coverage from a relational visibility based on the structure emerging from coverage and explains how different news-making rationales determine whether instances receive similar amounts of coverage or occupy similar positions within coverage. Eventually, by demonstrating how the Chinese state strategically uses party press to respond to social contention and how social contention is journalistically placed in different positions in the state’s eyes, this thesis argues that what social contention leads to is the establishment of complex state-contention relations channelled through the party press.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Contentious Politics; Social Movement Outcome; China; State-Media-Protest Relations
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sociology, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Jan 2024 15:19

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