Internet control and anti-control: An examination of public deliberation through networked media on civil sovereignty in China
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While the Internet has been a potent information communication asset for developing nations, the potential for numerous forms of anarchy online has kept most authoritarian governments on their toes. Countries such as the People's Republic of China have been up in arms with one of the most elaborate regulatory structures governing the use of the Internet. Through the potent combination of Internet filtering technology, state legislations, as well as economic sanctions, it would seem as if the Chinese Communist Party has locked-down any conceivable notion of an Internet-mediated Chinese democracy. In reality, Chinese citizens have been socially empowered since the very introduction of the Internet to the public. Emergent forms of public deliberation occurring over e-mail, discussion forums and web blogs have been observed to be voluntary, fragmented and ad-hoc in coordination (Min, 2008). These characteristics run parallel to Yochai Benkler's (2006) discourse on how networked media affords citizens the ability to create social forces massive enough to turn government decisions that encroach on their personal freedom. Prematurely regarded by Western media observers as a forward battle for Internet sovereignty, more recent discussions have lead cultural researchers to realize a more granular socio-political engagement occurring in the Chinese civil space. In essence, Chinese citizens have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not need a democratic setting for public deliberation and social change to occur. This dissertation will reveal the degree to which the world's highest Internet population co-evolves with the government in the confines of a regulated Internet.