Elaine Yuan

Oct 1, 2021

The Web of Meaning

The Internet in a Changing Chinese Society

University of Toronto Press 2021

purchase at bookshop.org

What is the impact of Internet technology communication in China? How do Chinese people view "privacy" differently from the western perspective? How is the newly passed China's Personal Information Protection Law going to impact people's lives? In a conversation with Joanne Kuai, a visiting PhD Candidate at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Elaine Yuan, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois, Chicago, talks about her recent book, The Web of Meaning: the Internet in a Changing Chinese Society (University of Toronto Press, 2021).

Elaine Yuan's research focuses on how new and emerging forms of communication mediate various social institutions and relations. She has extensively researched the subjects of network and mobile communication, social media, digital infrastructure, and cultural change processes. Her latest book examines the role of the Internet as symbolic fields for reproducing the cultural practices of privacy, nationalism, and the network market in China.

Through three empirical cases – online privacy, cyber-nationalism, and the network market – the book traces how different social actors negotiate the practices, social relations, and power structures that define these evolving institutions in Chinese society. Examining rich user-generated social media data with innovative methods such as semantic network analysis and topic modelling, The Web of Meaning provides a solid empirical base to critique for critiquing the power relationships embedded in Chinese society's very fibre.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Asianettverket at the University of Oslo, and the Stockholm Centre for Global Asia at Stockholm University. We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.

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Joanne Kuai

Joanne Kuai is a PhD Candidate at Karlstad University, Sweden, with a research project on Artificial Intelligence in Chinese Newsrooms. Her research interests centre around data and AI for media, computational journalism, and the social implications of automation and algorithms. Find her on LinkedIn or on Twitter @JoanneKuai.

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