Revisiting Media Effects in Authoritarian Societies: Democratic Conceptions, Collectivistic Norms, and Media Access in Urban China


Journal Article

We argue that, to effectively understand media effects in authoritarian societies, researchers must assess different types of media strategies adopted by authoritarian leaders. Using survey data from two Chinese cities, we examine the effects of two types of media strategies adopted by the Chinese government, targeting political attitudes and nonpolitical values and norms, respectively. Following a new line of research, we contrast China's domestic-controlled media to foreign free media. After accounting for the selection bias in Chinese urbanites' media access, we do not find sufficient evidence for the effect of the media strategies directly targeting their democratic conceptions. However, sufficient and robust evidence shows that more intensive consumption of diverse media sources, including foreign media, does significantly but indirectly counteract the Chinese government's political campaigns targeting its citizens' democratic conceptions, via thwarting the government's media strategies to cultivate a collectivistic norm in the society. © 2014 SAGE Publications.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lu, J; Aldrich, J; Shi, T

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 253 - 283

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-7514

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-3292

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0032329213519423

Citation Source

  • Scopus