(Re)forming Collective Identity Through Slacktivism in Chinese LGBTQ+ Digital Activism: The #IAmGay# Movement

Huang, Xing (2023) (Re)forming Collective Identity Through Slacktivism in Chinese LGBTQ+ Digital Activism: The #IAmGay# Movement. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis aims to critically engage with the slacktivist critique, a dismissive assessment of online political activity, through the lens of collective identity in the context of Chinese LGBTQ+ digital activism. Through content analysis and digital ethnography, a mixed-method approach, it explores the case study of the #IAmGay# movement on Weibo. In doing so, this thesis makes two major contributions.

Firstly, it presents an overview of the debate surrounding slacktivism, comprehensively addressing its theoretical significance. The problematic slacktivist critique argues that minor forms of activism on social networking sites (SNSs) have zero impact on political causes and only serve to fulfil participants’ ego, driving them away from participating in meaningful offline political activities (Morozov, 2009). This thesis proposes a new approach to understanding slacktivism by linking it with collective identity, a concept that has been developed in social movement studies to refer to a shared definition of ‘we’ amongst collective action participants (Melucci, 1989). It argues that slacktivism impacts movement and activist organisations as participants (re)form their collective identity through minor political actions on SNSs.

Secondly, from an empirical perspective, the thesis also bridges the gap between the debate of slacktivism and the concept of collective identity in western scholarship and practices of Chinese LGBTQ+ activism. China has a unique political environment where explicit and confrontational forms of LGBTQ+ activism are usually not allowed and often censored on SNSs. The environment creates specific opportunities and constraints for Chinese LGBTQ+ activism. Therefore, this thesis argues that under such circumstances, it is particularly important for Chinese LGBTQ+ individuals to participate in so-called slacktivism, as during the process they (re)form their collective identities and sustain their activism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 31 May 2023 14:17
Last Modified: 31 May 2023 14:17
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92215

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