San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
School of the Arts Presents:
Media and Politics Research Seminar - Semester One 2016
School of the Arts Library - 19 Abercromby Square (1st Floor)
Tuesday 6 October, 5pm - 6.30pm
Lina Tao: Media representation of internal migrant children in China between 1990 and 2012
Internal migrant children in mainland China remained virtually invisible or unknown in the early 1990s, but, as the number of such children surged, they soon became an object of media reports and public discussion. The project investigates and compares the representations of migrant children in the Chinese press from 1990–2012 and in the Twitter-like micro-blogosphere (weibo). It aims to understand the ways in which the media produce knowledge and opinions about this emerging group and, with regard to the discursive pattern, to trace the continuity and change over time as well as between different media forms.
People’s Daily and Southern Weekly are chosen to examine the portrayal of migrant children in an official Party-led newspaper vis-à-vis a commercial audience-oriented press. It is argued that, despite the domination of official voices (as in People’s Daily), the commercialisation of Chinese media institutions and the ensuing diversification of media content have facilitated the expression of migrant children and diversified their images (as in Southern Weekly).
At the same time, Chinese micro-bloggers have contributed to topics related to migrant children from a grassroots perspective which usually prioritises charity and philanthropy. The Internet media have also given rise to a new termshamate (杀马特, a literal translation of the English word ‘smart’), which was created by young migrants to refer to themselves. However, this word has been reshaped and twisted by the dominant non-migrant social groups to convey prejudicial meanings. Overall, the weibo discourse has reinforced, rather than challenged, the existing stereotypes of migrant children in the Chinese public discourse, who are continuously portrayed as a passive, subordinate and inferior group and whose voices are rarely heard in either online forums or offline media discourse.
Lina Tao completed her Masters degree by research in 2015 in the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She had been working as a newspaper journalist, and later as a policy analyst in an international research company. She is now serving as a political officer at the British Embassy, Beijing. Her research paper ‘Migrant Youth and New Media in Asia’, co-authored with Professor Stephanie Hemeryk Donald, has been included in Routeledge Handbook of New Media in Asia.
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