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PhD defence

The Construction of Nationalism in Chinese Media Events in the Reform Era

  • Q. Zhang
Thursday 12 May 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. S.R. Landsberger


This dissertation studies the construction of Chinese nationalism by the Chinese government and media companies through mass communication of government-staged and abrupt events in the reform era between 2008 and 2012. It examines how Chinese audiences express online nationalist sentiments, representing whether the communication of media events meets the social demands established by “dream discourses.” Using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, it focuses on two case studies: the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands incident. The dissertation finds that these mass media events play a significant role in shaping Chinese state nationalism and popular nationalism. The related mass communication helps the Chinese government increase or, at least, maintain its legitimacy through various strategies.

Chinese nationalism is a topic of enduring interest in China studies. It is pivotal to understanding the emergence of a modern nation-state in China in the 20th century and to understanding China as a rising power in the 21st century. The findings of this dissertation also show that as Chinese audiences have increasingly voiced themselves in the Information Age, the government will keep treating the robust, uneasy entanglement of nationalism, globalization, and digital media more cautiously for its social development and stability.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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