Project: Cultural Publics

This research program focuses on cultural publics in the era of network society.

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The formation of publics has been re-written by the mediation of information and communication technologies in the era of network society. Cultural publics originated from popular culture fans and celebrities have increasingly taken the center stage of active citizenship. Shared among the diverse groups of nowadays cultural publics are the rooting in cultural identity, and the shaping role played by new media. The logic behind algorithm-driven traffic media, the financial move made by new media companies, and the user communities' negotiation present a complex web of actors in contesting cultural publics.

Political culture varies among countries, due to their unique AND interwoven historical trajectories. Public engagement in activities such as political talk, elections, protests must be understood within the time- and location-bounded contexts. Historically, authoritarian orientation is salient in some countries than others; elections are indigenous to some cultures but imported to others; participatory acts, either online or offline, contain widely different meanings. The influence of political culture, even in a digital age, is best made evident if we take a comparative approach to examine the South against the South.


  1. Zhang, W., & Tong, T. (2024). Contesting the intermediary power: How Chinese MCNs interact with platforms, creators, and advertisers. Media, Culture & Society.
  2. Zhang W. (2023). Chineseness as Method. Global Media & China, 8(4), 514-518.
  3. Xi, Y., Chen, A., & Zhang, W. (2022). The expression of cultural identities in Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement: A semantic network analysis of tweets. Social Science Computer Review, 40(6), 1436–1455. [video]
  4. Zhang, W., Chen, Z., & Xi, Y. (2021). Traffic media: how algorithmic imaginations and practices change content production. Chinese Journal of Communication, 14(1). 58-74. [video]
  5. Zhang, W., & Neyazi, T. A. (2020). Communication and technology theories from the South: the cases of China and India. Annals of the International Communication Association, 44(1), 34-49.
  6. Zhang, L. & Zhang, W. (2018). The influence of monetization on the public functions of Weibo, Global Media and China, 3(3), 195-212.
  7. Zhang, W. (2016). Social media and elections in Singapore: comparing 2011 and 2015. Chinese Journal of Communication, 9(4), 367-384.
  8. Zhang, W. & Sabrina, M. Anthony. (2016). Alternative tweeting: A comparison of frames in Twitter’s political discourse and mainstream newspaper coverage on Singapore General Elections 2011. In M. Adria & Y. Mao (Eds.),Handbook of Research on Citizen Engagement and Public Participation in the Era of New Media. IGI Global.
  9. Zhang, W. & Pang, N. (2016). The Internet and social media. In Lee, T., & Tan, K. (Eds.), Change in voting: Singapore’s 2015 General Election. Singapore: Ethos Books.
  10. Haciyakupoglu, G. & Zhang, W. (2015). Social media and trust during the Gezi Protests in Turkey. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 40(2), 250-266.
  11. Zhang, W. (2015). The silence of majority: Political talk during 2011 election time. In Tan, T. H., Mahizhnan, A., & Ang, P. H. (Eds.), Battle for hearts and minds: New media and elections in Singapore. pp.227-246. Singapore: World Scientific.
  12. Zhang, W & Chib, A. (2014). Internet studies and development discourses: The cases of China and India. Information Technology for Development, 20(4), 324-338 .
  13. Zhang, W. (2014). 新科技对政治传播的影响 The influence of new technologies on political communication (中文 in Chinese). In J. Hong (Ed.), New trends in communication studies. pp.732-746. Beijing, China: Tsinghua University Press.
  14. Zhang, W. & Mao, C. (2013). Fan activism sustained and challenged: Participatory culture in Chinese online translation communities. Chinese Journal of Communication, 6(1), 45-61.
  15. Zhang, W. (2012). Virtual communities as subaltern public spheres: A theoretical development and an application to the Chinese Internet. In H. Li (Ed.),Virtual community participation and motivation: Cross-disciplinary theories. Pp.143-161. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  16. Zhang, W., & Wang, R. (2010). Interest-oriented versus relationship-oriented social network sites in China. First Monday, 15(8).
  17. Zhang, W. (2006). Constructing and disseminating subaltern public discourses in China. Javnost-The Public, 13(2), 41-64.

Partner Institutions

This research was funded by AcRF Tier 1 Grant (R-124-000-095-115), NUS’ FASS Book Grant (R-124-000-066-133) and a series of research grants from Institute of Policy Studies led by Tan Tarn How and Dr. Carol Soon. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funder.

Institute of Policy StudiesUniversity of PennsylvaniaMurdoch University