An emerging middle-class public sphere in China?

Analysis of news media representation of ‘Self Tax Declaration’

Authored by: Qian (Sarah) Gong

Routledge Handbook of Chinese Media

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415520775
eBook ISBN: 9781315758350
Adobe ISBN: 9781317635925


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This chapter draws on the concept of the public sphere to analyse the democratic potential of the news media in China. It emphasises that in addition to media autonomy, public deliberation based on plural social interests is another major dimension of media democracy. It analyses three news media that represent diverse social interests as well as the ‘journalism domain’ and ‘civic forum’ sectors of the public sphere. Through analysing their representation of a recent tax policy which aims to reduce income inequality, this chapter examines their autonomous civic deliberative function as well as their representative function of plural social interests, drawn from the revisited public sphere concept. It then critically discusses the potential of an emerging middle-class media public sphere in China, which falls short in its inclusion of a wider range of diverse and pluralistic social interests.

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