In my book The Blogging Revolution I examine the central role of the web in China.
A new work, Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online, expands the conversation:
Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has revolutionized popular expression in China, enabling users to organize, protest, and influence public opinion in unprecedented ways. Despite efforts to control these activities, online activism has been an agent of immense social change, allowing common citizens to disseminate content and openly challenge the authority of political and economic elites.
Guobin Yang’s pioneering study follows the rise of a dynamic protest and the forces that keep it relevant and unique. Online activism encompasses an innovative range of rituals, genres, and styles, and state efforts to constrain it have only led to more creative acts of subversion. Internet businesses have encouraged these contentious activities, generating an unusual synergy between capitalism and civil organizations that sponsor critique. Based on ten years of meticulous research and grounded in theories of social movements and the public sphere, Yang’s study emphasizes the mutual shaping of technology and society and highlights the important role of a transnational diaspora in the making of a Chinese Internet culture. In conclusion, Yang argues that online activism reflects important structural changes in contemporary China and points to a new era of informational politics.