The Assemblage of Social Death: Mapping Digital Vigilantism in China

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Digital vigilantism (DV) 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 research includes an overview of the historical development of Chinese DV, close examinations of experiences, discourses, and influences in several empirical DV cases, as well as a theorisation of DV’s social impact. By adopting different qualitative methodologies, the research develops a theoretically nuanced and empirically grounded understanding of DV in China and the interplay between DV and Chinese society, as well as contributes to the current scholarship on surveillance studies and digital cultures in China.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Trottier, Daniel, Supervisor
  • Janssen, Susanne, Supervisor
Award date28 Oct 2022
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-76665-51-1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022


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