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Identity, Locality and Social media in Guangzhou China


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This presentation was presented on 'The Fifth Postgraduate Symposium: Identities, Ideas, Ideologies' at Griffith University, 1 November 2013

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Identity, Locality and Social media in Guangzhou China

  1. 1. IDENTITY, LOCALITY AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN GUANGZHOU CHINA For the GCCR Postgraduate Symposium Wilfred Yang Wang (QUT)
  2. 2. PRESENTATION OUTLINE • Guangzhou - brief background • Weibo and current literature • Scope of the study and RQs • Methods • Some findings and discussions - Setting the tone - Distinctive frame of self - Framing the ‘others’
  4. 4. FROM LONELY PLANET Known to many in the West as ‘Canton’, Guǎngzhōu is the first city most travellers to mainland China visit. Wrapped in a perpetual haze of pink smog and flashing neon lights, the city overwhelms with its energy, colour, and sheer size. Influenced by neighbouring Hong Kong, consumerism has swept up the city in a head-spinning frenzy, but scratch away Guǎngzhōu’s glittery surface and you’ll find a place quite special among China’s major urban centres. It just takes some time to grow on you … Of course, you can’t talk about Guǎngzhōu without mentioning the food. It’s here that you’ll try Cantonese cuisine cooked at its very best. The city boasts the largest number of restaurants per capita in China; the Cantonese will make certain you won’t leave their city hungry.
  5. 5. GUANGZHOU (CANTON) • Capital city of the Guangdong Province • Population: 12.75 million* (2012) • Dialect: Cantonese • Economy: first to reform; hospitality and tradedriven: ‘China’s southern gate’ • Geographic: close to HK and Macau • Recent Histories: Opium Wars; Taiping Revolution; the Nationalist Revolution and the Communist Revolution • Social conflicts between local and new comers
  6. 6. A DIFFERENT TWITTER … WEIBO • Weibo (micro blogs), entry up to 140 Chinese characters; • Launched in 2009, by; • 5-6 different versions of weibo, a very competitive market. • Reached 331 million users by June 2013 • Nearly 50% used it through smart-phone
  8. 8. JOKE HERMES – CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP Re-reading popular culture (2008) • The degrading nation and traditional social institutions being the primary sites organise sense of belonging, duties and rights; • The production of distinctions, norms, and rules is the implicitly part of the ongoing activity of purposeful everyday meaningmaking in relation to mediated culture. • Cultural citizenship is not a free state in terms of acceptable behaviour (norms, rules), power-relation between communities
  9. 9. SCOPE OF STUDY • Will not go into ‘reflection’, ‘mutual respect’ and ‘acceptance of differences’; • Focus on, ‘the production of distinctions, norms, and rules’, of a GZ identity; • How a sense of rights and responsibility is framed through entertainment, (consumption) taste and idiosyncratic preference.
  10. 10. RESEARCH QUESTIONS How Guangzhou’s Weibo groups reinvent and renarrate GZ’s geo-identity? - How does the EDPFGZ position itself socially, economically and culturally? - How do the EDPFGZ frames the GZ self? (a sense of self) - How do the EDPFGZ frames ‘outsiders’ 1. Waisheng (mainland regions outside of Guangdong) 2. Hong Kong and beyond (Macao, TW, & the ‘West’)
  11. 11. METHOD • Systematic sampling • Sampling period: 1 July 2012 - 30 July 2013 • N=7,625 (38 posts in the first five days are all included and 232 posts in September 2012 are all excluded) • N=7,355(systematic sample with 95% confidence interval, +/- 3% marginal error ) – every 8th post was selected • n= 930+38 = 968
  12. 12. CATEGORIES Category/label Count Food 202 City Experience 71 Events, leisure, tourism 127 Cantonese (language) 24 Social issues (exclude DG) 58 Disadvantaged groups 39 Popular culture/celebrity 51 Human interests 141 Funny/jokes 42 Expression 35 Life advices Animal welfare: 27 Missing person: 17 178
  13. 13. FINDINGS & DISCUSSIONS • A striking sense of local-GZ identity is observed • EDPF invents and performs a sense of selfhood, rights and duties in relation to the city of Guangzhou. • Instead of a national self of being a ‘Chinese’ Guangzhouer(Chinese) not Chinese(Guangzhouer)
  14. 14. SOCIAL POSITION • Young, low-end middle class (new graduates, high school/university students); GZ-born • Bargain food, clothing, travel, and other lifestylerelated products ($ saving); • Advices about healthy lifestyle, exam strategies, employment and job hunting skills; • Gender relations; • Expressions as an urban youth: the struggle, happiness, hopeful wishes, romance and family.
  16. 16. SLOGANARY IDENTITY • I Love GZ, I love Cantonese • No reason, just Love GZ
  17. 17. APPRECIATION - FOOD • In 202 posts about food, only 5 has mentioned a waisheng cuisine; (14/7,355 in total); Majority are Cantonese cuisine; • Others being contemporary/fusion cuisine from HK, TW, Macau; or Sushi & Korean BBQ … & Chocolate; • ‘The owner is a local’: homemade; simple; nice and polite, ordinary and humble, hard-working; • Rules: what to eat, learn about authentic, local and traditional • Norms: how to behave, how to treat others, dairen , and working attitude (hard working but dedicated) • Distinctions: the absence of outsiders
  18. 18. APPRECIATION ENTERTAINMENT/LEISURE • Recommended travel destination: 1. Guangdong 2. HK, 3. Others , 4. inland cities • HK and TW’s celebrities and media products; • Japanese and Korean, and global celebrity and productions (e.g. David Beckham; LeBron James; Despicable Me 2; One Piece; Backstreet Boys); • ‘Who’s concert do you want to go to?’ 124 out of184 comments chose non-mainland singer; more than half of the 124 chose Cantonese pop stars - Who is your favour TVB actress? (338/142) - TVB characterise a nice and memorable GZ childhood
  21. 21. GZ - A TRANSLOCAL IDENTITY HK as satellite modernity – a window to modernity since 1980s (Fung and Ma, 2002; Ma, 2012) - Cultural/media products - Events - Food and entertainments - Policies/news (milk powder, border, passports)
  22. 22. PRESENTING OTHERS (WAISHENG) More ‘negative’ representations through news Counts 50 45 Representing waisheng 43 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 8 5 0 Negative Positive
  23. 23. THE INLAND ‘OTHERS’ Negative News Murder 4 Sexual assault 3 Stupidity 4 Physical assault/violence 1 Corruption/injustice 6 Accidents 6 Children (abandon/trafficking) 5 Violence (children) 3 Animal Cruelty 3 Crimes (non-manslaughter/.murder) 2 Poor behaviors 2 Unusual stories 1 Other Social issues 3 Positive News Romance 2 Friendship 1 Food 2 Animal welfare 1 Charity works 1 Social support 1 Police 1
  24. 24. FRAMING WAISHENG • Under developed • Devastated • Crimes/unrests/insecure • Conservative and even barbaric (inhumane) • Lack of discipline and knowledge • Stupid/ignorant Not discrimination but We are better and it is our responsibility to help them
  25. 25. FRAMING THE VULNERABLE Vulnerable and disadvantage gups are often mentioned - Disadvantaged groups - Animals Framing a caring and loving GZ identity 【爱心 广州】 (A Loving GZ) Responsibilities to social vulnerable and enact possible self-assessments A network of mutual support
  26. 26. IDENTITY TO RIGHT AND DUTY Greater Cantonese Cultural identity vs. A Chinese national identity 【爱广州的60个理由】每一条都很经典:1、离香港近!2、 离北京远!3、有大胆敢言的媒体! ‘60 Reasons to love GZ’ : 1. Close to HK; 2. Far away from Beijing; 3. Local media are outspoken Culture (food, language, heritage, ideologies) = right and entitlement Duty to protect local culture (during September 2012, anti-Japan protest became protecting GZ movement) Responsibilities to protect the social vulnerable/disadvantaged groups
  27. 27. TO CONCLUDE … • Weibo group comes at a time of changes • EDPF takes over the duty to manage Gzers’ sense of belonging, and provides the guides and rules of being a GZer • The process of identification takes the form of appreciation • Identification relies on entertainment, consumption tastes and idiosyncratic preferences • Differentiation is implicit through absence and devastation • A GZ-identity is translocal in nature