The mediated and mediatised justice-seeking: Chinese digital vigilantism from 2006 to 2018

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The Chinese Internet has developed rapidly in the past decade and given rise to many online phenomena, including digital vigilantism (DV). It refers to citizens’ practice of weaponising online visibility for retaliation when collectively offended. In China, since the Cat Torture Case in 2006, DV has been widely adopted by citizens to defend social norms and values. With recent technological developments and socio-political changes in China, how Chinese citizens conduct DV and its influence have also changed along various dimensions. This research, therefore, identifies the historical changes of DV in China and situates these changes in relation to contemporary Chinese technological and socio-political development. The study constructs a database of 1265 Chinese DV cases that receive media coverage between 2006 to 2018 and conducts a thematic analysis to identify characteristics, changes, and trends of DV in China. The author argues that these developments demonstrate the mediation and more importantly, the mediatisation of justice-seeking on the Chinese Internet conditioned by the ubiquitous state power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-322
Number of pages19
JournalInternet Histories
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under Grant [276-45-004] The author would like to thank Dr. Daniel Trottier for his valuable feedback on this manuscript. Additional gratitude is expressed to peer reviewers and editors for their many insightful comments and suggestions as well as the time and effort.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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