Competing perspectives, comparative audience perceptions, beliefs and mistaken-beliefs: British reporting Tibet riots in 2008

Li, Chen (2011) Competing perspectives, comparative audience perceptions, beliefs and mistaken-beliefs: British reporting Tibet riots in 2008. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


China has attracted considerable attention in recent years with its rise as an international economic power. The year 2008, in particular, brought China into the spotlight through a series of dramatic events, amongst which the Tibet riots in March 2008 (in conjunction with the Olympic torch relay) were arguably the most controversial. This resulted in clashes between competing perspectives both on television screens and on the streets in the form of student protests. This study investigates 1) how the sampled British news media (both mainstream television news and elite press) covered and interpreted the Tibet riots, as well as 2) why British and Chinese students (both having been in the UK when the riots occurred) perceive the riots and issues related to the Tibet Question in different ways. This study finds that the availability of news sources (especially those providing specific details) affected the sampled British news media to a large degree in presenting the ethnically-targeted feature (i.e. the violence mainly targeting Han Chinese-owned businesses and Han Chinese passers-by). The ethnically-targeted feature was also interpreted in various ways by inferring the sources of rioters’ grievances from, for instance, characteristics of the targets and policies that might affect people living in Tibet. This study also finds that while British participants tended to focus on the clashes between protesters and authorities, Chinese participants knew a lot about the scale of the damage and casualties. They also draw on different structures of knowledge and experience to infer the motivations of the rioters, as well as to trace the sources of their discontent. On this basis, this study identifies the factors that have caused differences between British and Chinese participants in their perceptions and understanding of these events.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Prof. Greg
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr. Chen Li
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3259
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:05

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