The Role of Mass Media in Reshaping Local Governance and Its Limitations

  • Fei Wu
  • Qing HuangEmail author


This chapter aims to discuss the potential of mass media, especially social media, for reshaping the mode of local governance in China by examining how social media prevalence influences local government responsiveness to online public inquiries and online civic engagement in 31 provincial-level administrative divisions in China. It first introduces mass media as an indispensable part of governance by briefly reviewing the social function of mass media. Afterward, it focuses on how social media can afford the interactions between local governments, including local governmental agencies and officials, and various social actors in the process of local governance in China. Through the analysis of the aggregate data regarding social media prevalence, local government responsiveness, and civic engagement in 31 provincial-level administrative divisions in China, the results show that social media in general contributes to local government responsiveness to online public inquiries and online civic engagement. Specifically, local governmental agencies tend to respond to public inquiries more actively than local government officials on social media, and citizens tend to discuss local affairs more frequently with local governmental agencies than with local government officials on social media. The findings indicate the promising role of social media in improving local government responsiveness and advancing civic engagement but reveal that local government officials’ underuse of social media might constrain the development of good local governance in China. It concludes with an outlook into the future of digitalized local governance in China.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Media and International CultureZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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