Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media


This thesis intends to shed light on the role of social media in China in relation to the increasing public concern about environmental issues. This involved the use of qualitative methods to explore the use of social media in relation to the experience of air pollution in the Chinese social and cultural context. Thirty participants from Beijing and Tianjin, where smog and haze problems have raged in the past five years, were interviewed. These participants were from a variety of different social contexts in terms of their family circumstances, professional standing, status as a local or outsider to the city in which they resided, and their engagement in environmental debates on social media. Through an in-depth analysis of these interviews, and reflection on the specificities of the Chinese cultural context, this thesis explores not only how social media relates to participants’ concerns and their response to environmental issues but also how it is imbricated in people’s daily lives. Inevitably, this involves a reflection on the government response to environmental issues, including the official policy on social media, and how citizens have responded to these measures. This thesis provides a description of the relationship between people, social media, and the government in relation to environmental issues in China. It reveals how social media influences people’s understandings about environmental issues apart from what government has told and further affects people choices in daily life.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.