Information control and Communist Party legitimacy in China

Gardner, Paul (2024) Information control and Communist Party legitimacy in China. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Control of information is key to the survival of authoritarian regimes. Censorship and propaganda play a particularly important role in maintaining and enhancing regime legitimacy. The Chinese Communist Party has developed a large and sophisticated information control operation in its efforts to manufacture the consent of Chinese citizens, but censorship and propaganda are much more selective and sophisticated than they were under Chairman Mao. This thesis analyses what content the CCP controlled during the first six years of Xi Jinping’s presidency (2013-2018), how it controlled this information and particularly the way that censorship and propaganda were used together, and what types of legitimacy these information control efforts focused on. It involves a content analysis of censorship instructions sent to media organisations, and social media posts by People’s Daily, the Party’s main propaganda mouthpiece, together with additional qualitative analysis of the content of these instructions and posts. While King et al (2013) argued that censorship was focused on content involving collective action, this thesis shows that the CCP uses censorship and propaganda to target a much wider range of political content. It proposes a new typology of the censorship and propaganda system and argues that it is important to consider how the CCP uses a mix of censorship and propaganda to get an accurate picture of what information is controlled. This thesis then uses the information about the political content the CCP controls and the way they use censorship and propaganda to control that information to improve our understanding of how the CCP sought to enhance its legitimacy. It shows that information control targeted at the public focused on ideology based on nationalism and moral values, while manipulating and limiting discussion of challenging performance issues and the Party itself. This creates an anaesthetised information environment which encourages people to feel patriotic and positive, but where politics is as unpolitical as possible.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Censorship, propaganda, legitimacy, Chinese Communist Party.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Langer, Dr. Ana Ines and Munro, Dr. Neil
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84244
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2024 15:38
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 15:38
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84244

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