7th Chinese Internet Research Conference

The 7th Chinese Internet Research Conference will take place at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Wednesday May 27 and Thursday May 28, 2009
The conference title is:
The Chinese Internet and Civil Society:
Civic Engagement, Deliberation and Culture

By the end of June 2008, China had reached 253 million Internet users, surpassing the United States and becoming the country with the largest number of netizens. The theme of the 7th Chinese Internet Research Conference, "The Chinese Internet and Civil Society: Civic Engagement, Deliberation and Culture," is designed to bring together scholars and professionals to examine the Chinese Internet from socioeconomic, political and cultural perspectives and explore uncharted areas in innovative ways. While much of the research so far has focused on the political implications of the Internet in China, we have yet to understand the changes the Internet is fostering in civil society, the intersection between the market and the state, and the Internet's cultural implications for identity formation, emergent cultural phenomena and social networking. Topics of the conference include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Civil society and its obstacles: What is the role of the internet in the emergent civil society of China? Is there an online public sphere and what does it look like? How does the internet shape the interplay between the private, public and state sectors? What are some of the negative aspects of Chinese online social networking, e.g. what role does the internet play in enabling terrorism, extreme nationalism, or violence in China?
  2. The Internet and youth: How do young people use the Internet and are there generational differences in Internet use? What cultures/subcultures emerge over the Internet? How are civic cultures formed through online cultural practices such as peer production, gaming, and social networking in spaces such as Facebook, YouTube, and Myspace? What new cultures emerge in virtual worlds such as Secondlife and Hipihi, the blogosphere and other online spaces?
  3. The Internet, national crisis and media events: What is the role of the Internet in managing national crisis, for example, by organizing, coordinating and advancing volunteerism, donations and social support in cases such as the Sichuan Earthquake? What is the role of the Internet in managing the national image and advancing cultural understanding? What is the role of the Internet in media events such as the Beijing Olympics?
  4. Entertainment, deliberation/opinion-formation and popular culture: How have the boundaries between news and entertainment changed and what effect does it have on deliberation and opinion formation? What is the role of entertainment in Internet use? To what extent are people addressed as consumers rather than citizens online? How are concepts such as "fun" and "play" applied in Internet use?
  5. Chinese minorities, China Proper, Greater China or "Cultural China": How do Chinese minorities use the Internet? How are they represented over the Internet? How is the Internet used in other Chinese-language speaking areas, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore? How do Chinese diasporas use the Internet? Is global Chineseness, if it exists, fostered through the Internet?
  6. Research methodology: What are the appropriate methodologies to study the Chinese Internet and civil society in particular? What comparative models can explore the overlap and differences between the Chinese Internet and the global Internet?

Paper Submission:

We welcome proposals of quantitative, qualitative and critical studies from all disciplines. English proposal are preferred, but Chinese proposals will also be carefully considered. Invited papers will build upon the conference theme or address other significant issues regarding Internet development, use, and impacts in China and the Chinese-speaking world.

A proposal of approximately 1000 words is due by Jan. 15, 2009. Submissions should be sent to Dr. Hongmei Li and Sylvie Beauvais at penncirc2009@asc.upenn.edu.  Accepted papers will be announced on February 15, 2009. Completed papers should be submitted by April 24, 2009.

Competitive scholarship:

A limited amount of travel funding will be available for promising young scholars, especially for those travelling from Asia. To indicate interest in the travel scholarship, please attach your CV when you send your abstract.

Paper Award:

Following a tradition of this conference, graduate students may submit papers for the Annual Best Graduate Student Paper Award. Cash prizes will be given to the winner or winners. To qualify, submissions need to be full conference papers written in English authored by or coauthored among graduate students. Deadline for submission is April 24, 2009.

Conference cooperating institutions include:

The Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake University Law School, the Institute for Pacific Asia at Texas A & M University, the Singapore Internet Research Center (SIRC) at Nanyang Technological University, the School of Journalism and Communication at Peking University, and the Center for US-China Relations at Tsinghua University. Paste conferences were held at the University of Hong Kong, Texas A & M University, Nanyang Technological University, Michigan State University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.


Participants are responsible for paying for their hotel. You are encouraged to reserve a room at the Club Quarters of Philadelphia: www.clubquarters.com, 1628 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, (215) 282-5000.

When making a reservation, please specify that you are reserving as a guest of the University of Pennsylvania.

Other hotels include the Sheraton University City (http://www.philadelphiasheraton.com/) and the Inn at Penn (http://www.theinnatpenn.com/) .


There is no fee to register for the conference. The conference is open to the public. If you would like to attend the conference, please register by emailing your name, institutional affiliation and title, and email address.

Visa Support Letters

The organizers will provide visa support letters upon request. Please email your request to PennCirc2009@asc.upenn.edu in an email entitled "VISA SUPPORT" specifying your name as it appears in your passport, your dates of travel, the address of the embassy to which you will be submitting a visa request, and any other information you would like us to include in the letter. We will email you a PDF of the support letter.


The Annenberg School, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania, is located at 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA. The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is a 20 minute taxi ride from either the university campus or downtown Philadelphia. Public rail transportation is also available from the airport.  You can also fly to Newark International Airport (EWR) and take a one-hour train to Philadelphia.

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