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Title: Networked young citizens in China : exploring cybercivic participation and learning among university students
Author: Lin, K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 0295
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This study explores how young citizens in China engage in civic life by the use of social media. It is inspired by an understanding of young people as the digital generation and as present citizens. Previous literature has identified the rise of online civic participation as a possible solution for youth political ignorance and political apathy. However, the lack of contextualised cases and detailed investigations leads to this virtual ethnographic study, which proposes a notion of youth cybercivic participation and examines its potential for constructing a transformed public sphere and for contributing to a transformed process of Chinese democratisation. The thesis aims to discuss the contribution of youth cybercivic participation to education reform in the digital age, especially from the perspectives of young people. The study focuses on a group of 18-24-year-old Chinese university students. Data was collected through online participant observation and offline in-depth interviews. Research findings reveal that popular civic topics that students raised online include patriotism, volunteering, social justice, lifestyle politics, local and global involvement, and other controversial issues. The forms of cybercivic engagement include lurking, announcing, promoting, and community-constructing. Various factors may trigger or hinder students’ participation, such as offline civic interests, needs, sense of political efficacy, media using habits and civic capability. In terms of the influence of their participation, students reported that they felt more informed, enlightened, and powerful online, while some of them remained confused, cynical and powerless offline. Four categories of civic identities were identified: insouciant bystanders, interested participants, good citizens and active citizens. I argue that social media have expanded and diversified youth civic awareness and knowledge, but have not automatically developed youth civic capabilities. Consequently, citizenship education should explore a new model of reflective cybercivic learning which integrates dutiful and actualising civic learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available