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Judicial Visibility Under Consultative Authoritarianism: A Study of the Live Broadcasting of Court Trials in China

Fri, May 25, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton Prague, Floor: L, Barcelona


This study examines the live broadcasting of court trials and its political dynamics by situating it under China’s consultative authoritarianism. It argues official live broadcast of court trials serves three main purposes to sustain the legitimacy and continued domination of the Chinese Communist Party. Analyses of two cases – the trials surrounding QvodPlayer and the ex-leader Bo Xilai – reveal how the pre-designed order of power is arranged, wrapped up, and exhibited as the official live broadcasting becomes surveillance footages of courts’ daily working routine, and how potential agency could be brought when ordinary netizens poach and rephrase the official live stream thereby turning a decent court into a real-time power arena. These findings help develop a more profound understanding of the control and resistance in Chinese evolving regime of consultative authoritarianism. Moreover, this study also proposes a flexible framework to understand the fluid process of liveness making in the digitalized mediascape.