“Big Brother, We Are Watching on You” - Weibo and the bottom-up surveillance in China
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The development of the Internet in China has brought significant changes to the daily life of Chinese people. When new media are used as a tool for better communication, people also use this tool to claim their civil rights. In recent years, a growing number of Chinese corrupt officials are brought down by ordinary people with the help of a “Chinese twitter” – Weibo. Chinese people use Weibo to surveil the behavior of officials and thus it gradually shapes a “bottom-up surveillance” mechanism. This thesis aims to analyze how this mechanism works and why is it powerful. By adapting western theories of network society, public sphere, Panopticon and Catopticon, I argue that Weibo, as an “integrated information terminal”, has optimized the Chinese online public sphere, which generates communicative power for ordinary people. I use a typical case “watch brother” to analyze the Weibo-based communication generally into four phases and then eventually forms a powerful bottom-up surveillance mechanism. Certainly there are still flaws within this mechanism, but it already shows the potential of internet regarding the social movement and civil rights reforming progress.