Brainwashing paranoia and lay media theories in China: the phenomenological dimension of media use (and the self) in digital environments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Drawing on the phenomenological tradition, this article focuses on the ‘lay media theories’ that ordinary people rely on to orient their media use. Existing scholarship on certain perceptions users hold about media and their behavioral consequences tends to assume that these perceptions by default rest on a sense of self that is pre-existing and immune to media. My empirical research troubles this theoretical assumption. Analyzing interviews and ethnography in China, I investigate the media practices of certain individuals under the influence of ‘brainwashing paranoia’. Through their engagements with the information abundance on the Chinese Internet, these individuals had, over time, revamped rather than enhanced their established political beliefs. I argue that in today’s high-choice environments, users’ lay media theories, especially their conceptions about media in relation to the self, should be taken into account as one major sociocultural factor that moderates or mediates the age-old tendency for selective exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-926
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Keywords

  • Internet
  • censorship
  • interviews
  • lay theory
  • phenomenology
  • reception study
  • selective exposure
  • self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Brainwashing paranoia and lay media theories in China: the phenomenological dimension of media use (and the self) in digital environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this