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Represented Dreams: Subversive Expressions in the Chinese Blogosphere as Alternative Symbolic Maps

Fri, May 26, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 3, Aqua 310AB

Abstract

This paper examines the creation and utilization of subversive expressions by Chinese internet users amidst heavy censorship. While these expressions may potentially constitute a form of collective power, so far they have not been subjected to systematic examination. A grounded analysis of 270 Weibo posts that relate to nine prevalent subversive keywords aims at shedding light on the alternative symbolic map such expressions facilitate. Results show that popular subversive expressions tend to describe social groups, rather than other entities. Microblogers appear to identify with the groups that are least governmental, while clearly dissociating themselves from those connected to the regime. At the very same time, the expressions reveal a set of contradictory values, shedding light on the paradoxes facing Chinese society and ‘the Chinese Dream.’

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