Microblogging and Authoritarian Governance Regimes: Results from a survey on the use of Sina Weibo by Chinese citizens

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Abstract

Until now, explanations of citizens’ online behaviors in the Western world have been scarce, with accounts of analyses of citizens’ behaviors in authoritarian governance regimes in the East being even scarcer. This study contributes to the understanding of which factors contribute to citizens’ use of social media in state-citizen communication patterns in authoritarian governance regimes, with a focus on Chinese citizens’ use of Sina Weibo microblogs. Based on the analysis of 1572 questionnaires collected from citizens living in Hunan (People’s Republic of China), the study quantifies the factors that impact (1) Chinese citizens’ intentions to use Sina Weibo and (2) actual use of Sina Weibo in state-citizen communication patterns. Results indicate that peer pressure and trust in individual civil servants positively impacts use of Government Sina Weibo microblogs by citizens, anxiety negatively impacts citizens’ use, whereas institutional trust does not explain citizens’ use. Use intentions mediate the relations between respectively peer pressure and interpersonal trust in officials, and actual use. The study contributes to the literature on trust and anxiety (especially in the Chinese society) in relation to the use of microblogging by Chinese government, and adds to our understanding of the role of microblogging in state-citizen communication patterns in authoritarian governance regimes in general, and in the Chinese governance system in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalElectronic Journal of e-Government (EJEG)
Volume16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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