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The story of Qi Shi Ma: Online discussion and community engagement in urban China
Unformatted Document Text:  - 17 - with a platform to express themselves. On the other hand, there was no evidence the social media led to offline public decision-making or political participation. For one, there was no evidence the online forum led to communication between the public and the authorities. These two groups simply relied on two media platforms to express themselves without interactions. For another, there were few rational discussions or arguments on the online forums. Therefore, the social media only started to be a public space for expression rather than a public sphere for negotiations and decision-making. This study focused on only one case in one city. Future studies of the Internet in China should broaden the scope, by discussing these findings across regions. The analysis of the social and cultural meanings of online discussions could be used to explore the political culture in contemporary Chinese society. For future study of the virtual public sphere, more community-oriented research could explore how tensions and conflicts are negotiated via this communication platform and how virtual communication leads to actual participation. Also, scholars could further explore the theoretical patterns to conceptualize activities on the virtual sphere and the connections with the real sphere by gathering larger amounts of empirical data. Online discussion and community engagement in urban China

Authors: Liu, Zhengjia.
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- 17 -
with a platform to express themselves. On the other hand, there was no evidence the 
social media led to offline public decision-making or political participation. For one, 
there was no evidence the online forum led to communication between the public and the 
authorities. These two groups simply relied on two media platforms to express 
themselves without interactions. For another, there were few rational discussions or 
arguments on the online forums. Therefore, the social media only started to be a public 
space for expression rather than a public sphere for negotiations and decision-making.
This study focused on only one case in one city. Future studies of the Internet in 
China should broaden the scope, by discussing these findings across regions. The analysis 
of the social and cultural meanings of online discussions could be used to explore the 
political culture in contemporary Chinese society. For future study of the virtual public 
sphere, more community-oriented research could explore how tensions and conflicts are 
negotiated via this communication platform and how virtual communication leads to 
actual participation. Also, scholars could further explore the theoretical patterns to 
conceptualize activities on the virtual sphere and the connections with the real sphere by 
gathering larger amounts of empirical data.
Online discussion and community engagement in urban China


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