Kun He | From Civil Society to News Reports: How Populist Discourse affects News Discourse and Official Discourse in China

Kun He | From Civil Society to News Reports: How Populist Discourse affects News Discourse and Official Discourse in China | University of Groningen, Department of Media Studies and Journalism | Prof. Marcel Broersma & Dr. S.A. (Scott) Eldridge II | October 1st 2018 to October 1st 2022 | Kun.H[at]rug.nl

From Civil Society to News Reports: How Populist Discourse affects News Discourse and Official Discourse in China

Recent political trends and events, such as the Brexit, the triumph of Donald Trump in the US presidency election as well as the rise of populist parties and politicians in European countries, have brought the concept of “populism” to the center of global discussion. However, populism is inherently a shifty concept, which makes it difficult to grasp analytically. A number of scholars have therefore compared populism to chameleon, which adjust its own colors to contexts in a consistent manner . Remarkably, however, the topic of populism have generated a wealthy of theory and research since the 1990s, provoked considerable debate and numerous theoretical models encompassing different understanding of the definition and construct of populism, and produced few clear straightforward answers due to its high dependence on socio-political contexts.

Although the contemporary populism study is in a considerable state of flux with several parallel developments taking place and new directions emerging, there are three approaches that have been particularly prominent in the field: the ideational-approach by Cas Mudde (2004) , political-strategy approach by Kurt Weyland (2001) and socio-cultural approach by Pierre Ostiguy(2017).

In my study, therefore, the developments and directions with respect to the existing theoretical approaches aforementioned will be traced so as to map the current political issues (in both traditional perspectives and socio-contextually sensitive perspective). As the introduction chapter of The Oxford Handbook of Populism (2017)stated, “unfortunately, we have not been able to include chapters on populism in China… because there is little current research on populism about those places” , my research questions will be focused on: 1) whether the existing definitions are still explainable/can be applicable to the China context and what the “color” of populism is in China; 2) what the characteristics of online populism are in the Chinese context and whether they vary from those in Western countries/in the west-east transaction; 3) Whether online populism affects news reports, official reports or official discourse. If so, in what manner?