Polarized China: The Effect of Media Censorship on People's Ideology

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Ideological polarization is not a unique product of western politics. A national survey (2007-2014) revealed that the overarching division in Chinese society is split between nationalism and cultural liberalism. Why does polarization happen in society where state ideology dominates the political apparatuses? This paper approaches this puzzle by examining the relationship between individuals' media diet facilitated by media censorship policies and their ideology in China. The findings suggest that polarization as an outcome is due to nationalists adhering to heavily state-controlled media, while liberals seek less censored resources. The findings also suggest that polarization as a process is due to the fact that agnostics who use the media mainly for learning purposes tend to stay or become nationalists, while agnostics who use media mainly for entertainment purposes tend to become liberals.


Political Science

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