The Maoming Anti-PX Protest of 2014: Mass Media Vs. Social Media?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ai SONG, Keio University, Japan
This study takes the MaoMing(in Guangdong, China) anti-PX protest in 2014 as a case of contemporary social activism. It explores the dynamic interaction among social media, the conventional mass media and social activism.Thus this study aims firstly to re-examine the discussed linkage between social media and occurring of protest, and to contribute into theories broadly relevant to media and social movement.

Since 2007, there has been a wave of anti-PX protests in China. Para-xylene(PX) , a chemical used in the plastic bottles and  polyester, is extracted from petroleum in a process that entails environmental and health risks. On 30 March 2014, a ten-thousands-participants scale of anti-PX protest rally gathered in front of the city hall, which then developed into a violent clash on that night.

The MaoMing anti-Px protest attract scholarly attentions, including interviewed based sociological and ethnographical studies, such studies appear to exaggerate the role of internet and social media and to treat them as the tools that intensified the protest. Instead, they tend to overlook the impact of public agenda that has been created and spread by mass media.

The incident attracted media attention in various ways. Whereas local news media promptly covered it, it was a week after when the national media intensively reported it. The latter developed the story in the context of whether the causality of this protest is scientifically correct. Therefore, by employing discourse analysis of the series of anti-PX protests since 2007, this paper argues that not merely social media, but (national) mass media play a significant role in inspiring such protests. Meanwhile it addresses the situation that mass media are no longer the mobilized resource for who lead movements, but are in the power of to frame and assert such protests movement.