Performative Propaganda Engagement: How Online Celebrity Fandom Engages with State Propaganda in China
Speaker: Yingdan Lu, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication
Established research on authoritarian information control has extensively examined the top-down dissemination of political propaganda and its impact on public attitudes and behaviors. This research introduces a novel theory, performative propaganda engagement, which focuses on individuals who engage with state propaganda in a performative manner to benefit an individual or a group they align with, rather than genuinely endorsing or promoting the propaganda. Through mixed methods research approaches, this research empirically investigates performative propaganda engagement within the realm of Chinese online celebrity fandom, a rising cultural force on Chinese social media. The findings reveal that celebrity fans in China actively incorporate the promotion of state propaganda into their daily activities, aiming to enhance the visibility and reputation for their beloved celebrities. I theorize that celebrity fans performatively engage with state propaganda through three mechanisms — celebrity mobilization, direct state mobilization, and algorithmic visibility manipulation. By exploring the manifestations of performative propaganda engagement, this research contributes to a deeper understanding of the downstream effects of authoritarian information control, the contemporary fandom culture in China, the metrics-driven nature of social media ecosystem, and the authoritarian resilience in the digital age.
About the Workshops
The SCCEI Young Researcher Workshops are a bi-weekly series of presentations from scholars around campus who are working on issues related to China’s economy and institutions. The aim of the series is to bring together young scholars by providing a platform to present new research, get feedback, exchange ideas, and make connections. Each session features a single presenter who may present a new research plan, share results from preliminary data analyses, or do a trial run of a job talk or conference presentation. The Workshop Series is an opportunity to give and receive feedback on existing research, get to know other researchers around campus who are working on or in China, and be a testing ground for new ideas, data, and presentations.
Workshops are held every other Tuesday from 2 - 3 pm. Afternoon refreshments will be provided!
Visit the Young Researcher Workshops webpage for more information on the content and format of the series and to learn how to sign up to present.