Journal Article

Online Network Size, Efficacy, and Opinion Expression: Assessing the Impacts of Internet Use in China

Fei Shen, Ning Wang, Zhongshi Guo and Liang Guo

in International Journal of Public Opinion Research

Published on behalf of World Association for Public Opinion Research

Volume 21, issue 4, pages 451-476
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0954-2892
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1471-6909 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edp046
Online Network Size, Efficacy, and Opinion Expression: Assessing the Impacts of Internet Use in China

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  • Communication Studies
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The severe internet censorship implemented in China naturally raises substantial doubt about the potential democratic functions of the internet. This study presents some initial empirical evidence for internet use's impact on online opinion expression in Mainland China by analyzing three survey datasets collected by the World Internet Project in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Results reveal a positive relationship between internet use and online expression. The positive association is partially mediated by online network size, but not necessarily by internet efficacy. Although government censorship has in a measure successfully stifled people's; willingness to speak out, it is argued that the networking function of the internet could still bring incremental changes to the Chinese society through constructing loosely structured networks.

Journal Article.  9001 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Communication Studies ; Marketing ; Media and Communication ; Political Behaviour ; Social Research and Statistics

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