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Title: Humiliation, pride and identity in the digital age : unpacking Chinese online nationalism
Author: Cheng, Jing
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 6662
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2018
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Nationalism has been an important issue for China in both domestic politics and international relations. In the Post-Tiananmen Era, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turned to nationalism as an ideological instrument to bolster the faith of the Chinese people and legitimise the Party’s rule. Meanwhile, the early 1990s also witnessed rapid developments in information and communications technologies (ICTs) in China, which have catalysed the emergence of online nationalism. Much of the existing literature focuses on either the external impact of Chinese nationalism on foreign policy or highlights the rise of popular nationalism as an independent force that makes the state fragile. There is, however, insufficient attention paid to the internal construct of Chinese nationalism. In the digital age, it also becomes increasingly evident that contemporary Chinese nationalism cannot be properly understood without reference to the role of digital communication. This thesis analyses the politics of Chinese nationalism through the lens of digital communicative practices. This offers an original and nuanced understanding of the political and social dynamics in contemporary China. The thesis focuses on two dimensions. First, it highlights the link between official nationalism and popular nationalism, revealing the changing dynamics within the construction of Chinese nationalism. Second, it focuses on Chinese online nationalism, illuminating the relationship between nationalism and technology. The thesis presents the first major work in examining both top-down construction and popular reception in Chinese nationalism studies from an ethnosymbolic approach. It highlights that the theoretical framework of ethno-symbolism is helpful in providing a more situated, nuanced understanding from a historical and cultural dimension. This thesis considers the (re)construction of China’s national myths of the Second Sino-Japanese War and examines the construction of national humiliation and national pride in the changing state-society dynamics. The study primarily focuses on discourse, in both textual and visual modes, relating to national humiliation and national pride that constitute the two key ingredients of Chinese nationalism. Accordingly, two cases are chosen for empirical investigation: the commemoration events for the Nanjing Massacre and the 2015 Victory Day Parade event. The study uses discourse analytical tools from Discourse Historical Approach and multimodal approach and highlights the importance of having a situated understanding of Chinese nationalism from historical and cultural perspective. It argues that Chinese online nationalism is (re)constructed by a multiplicity of discourses via digital practices, characterised by the evolving dynamics between state and society and situated in the wider political and cultural contexts. The thesis shows that digital communication has changed the means by which the landscape of Chinese nationalism is shaped, which is manifest in two ways. Firstly, national symbols and rituals, as an important means of patriotic education for the CCP, have been “relocated” from physical space, such as Nanjing and Tiananmen, to virtual cyberspace. By incorporating technology into its patriotic education framework, the CCP increasingly extends its discursive power in propagating patriotism, thereby making the Internet an institutionalised patriotic education venue. Secondly, online nationalist expressions and communication provide fertile ground for Chinese Internet users to explore their discursive space in political communication, allowing them to reshape the mythscape of the national past and reconstruct national identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australasia, etc.)