A Study of the Impact of Sina Weibo on the Formation of Public Opinion in Mainland China

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Changing public opinion—a study of the impact of Sina Weibo on the formation of public opinion in Mainland China Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1. Background Public opinion, as a key notion of Habermas (1989)’ Public Sphere Theory, refers to a collective consensus view about social issues. As the generation of public opinion entails acquiring information about the society, the new channels of communication brought by computer-mediated technological innovations today have to a large extent transformed the way the public gain information, discuss common issues and hence the way public opinion is formed. Among these new channels, social media have attracted numerous scholars to examine their impacts on the democratisation of society. While the…show more content…
Chapter 2 reviews the existing analyses of Sina Weibo and identifies the research gaps in previous studies. Chapter 3 demonstrates Habermas (1962/1989)’ public sphere theory and Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955)’s two-step flow of communication theory as well as the methodologies employed in this study. It also discusses the potential problems in using these methodologies and the solution. This is followed a detailed analysis of the research question in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 concludes the findings illustrated at length in the former chapters and points out the limitations and implications of this project. Chapter 2: Literature Review and Research Gap 2.1. Literature Review A number of scholars have done research on the contributions of Sina Weibo to the Chinese society. In doing this, some researchers compare the features of Sina Weibo with those of Twitter, as Sina Weibo is often regarded as a copycat of Twitter. For example, though a quantitative study of the trends of topics on Sina Weibo and Twitter, Yu, Asur and Huberman (2011) discover that users of Sina Weibo are more likely to use it for entertaining purposes, whilst on Twitter there are more topics related to current issues. Sullivan (2012) examines the political discourse of Chinese netizens on Chinese microblogs and on Twitter and argues that the political impacts of these tools are dependent on particular social

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