The Digital Turn in Political Representation in China

This paper provides a literature review and preliminary field observations on the topic of political representation in the Chinese cyberspace. The authors demonstrate that multiple new communication platforms are being established in the Chinese cyberspace. These new platforms not only transform conventional forms of political representation but also create new representative patterns, such as in cases of interactive and connective e-representations. They conclude that the proliferation of new communication technologies has been transforming the relationships between representatives and represented as well as between the state and society. Furthermore, in this paper the authors take their analysis beyond the description of the Chinese case and argue that the Chinese case also contributes to the Western theory of political representation. More specifically, they question the performative nature of claim-making and the role of “performer” and the “audience”. They propose two concepts of interactive and connective e-representations and further claim that the current developments in the Chinese cyberspace may signal a new digital turn in the theory of political representation.

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