Qian Huang | Digital Vigilantism in China: Mediated Visibility in the Context of Social Change and Social Harm

Qian Huang | Erasmus University Rotterdam, Media and Communication Department | Dr Daniel Trottier and Prof. dr Susanne Janssen | 1 March 2017 to 1 March 2021 | huang[at]eshcc.eur.nl

Digital Vigilantism in China: Mediated Visibility in the Context of Social Change and Social Harm
Part of the NWO project: Digital Vigilantism: Mapping the terrain and assessing societal impacts

Digital vigilantism is a process where citizens who are facilitated by digital media and technology are collectively offended by other citizens’ activities and use visibility as a weapon to conduct mediated policing and control. In China, DV is featured by the so-called ‘human flesh search engine’ and other forms of citizen-led vigilante activities. Such DV activities reflect the current social and political situation in contemporary China; in turn, DV activities construct the social and political reality in China. This proposed PhD project aims to develop a theoretically nuanced and empirically grounded understanding of DV in China and the interplay between DV and Chinese society. With the situated theoretical framework, first-hand data and analysis, the research will offer a conceptually and empirically grounded understanding of DV practices in China. By answering the research question: “How is digital vigilantism manifest in the contemporary Chinese media landscape?”, the research will be able to provide a clear conceptualization, comprehensive understanding and analysis of digital vigilantism in contemporary China.