The State, Movement Communication, and the Construction of Public Opinion

Dingxin Zhao

in The Power of Tiananmen

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780226982601
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226982625 | DOI:
The State, Movement Communication, and the Construction of Public Opinion

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Media coverage of a social movement, and the way it is covered, have been crucial to the public awareness, support, and development of social movements. Although there are significant differences among the positions taken by media scholars, most see both the media and public opinion in the West as relatively conformist institutions. When a news story is about the government, reports generally reflect official views. Since many social movements are anti-establishment, the media tend to neglect them. Even when the media report on a social movement, they tend to marginalize, trivialize, and distort the scale and the goals of the movement. Such distortions are also characteristic of public opinion. This chapter analyzes the pattern of interactions between the media and public opinion and its impact on the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, focusing on state-society relations. It starts with an analysis of the range of news coverage in China before the rise of the 1989 Movement and then considers which communication channels were most important to the dynamics of the movement.

Keywords: 1989 Beijing Student Movement; state-society relations; public opinion; communication; social movements; media; news coverage

Chapter.  14933 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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