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Type: Thesis
Title: Media in China: constructing “war narrative” in natural disaster coverage.
Author: Zhang, Weimin
Issue Date: 2015
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: This study examines how media can be used in contributing to control ongoing crises following large-scale natural disasters. In investigating this research question this study conducts two case studies. Set in the context of the contemporary Chinese nationalistic culture this study dissects how Chinese media enhances crisis control by controlling the meaning of it. This thesis firstly takes a historical overview of the negotiations between discursive power and the control of information about natural disasters in Chinese media. Based on this cultural background, this study then conducts a case study of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake to examine how Chinese media is used to enhance crisis control in the context of contemporary Chinese nationalistic culture. In order to examine the research question in a global context this study also briefly examines the Australian media’s coverage of the 2013 Tasmanian Bushfire. A substantial corpus of data is built up and a systematic approach is designed in this study. In the case study of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the corpus of primary data is constituted by media texts from the state-controlled Chinese media, including the Sichuan Daily, People Net, Southern Weekly, People’s Daily, Guangming Daily and Xinhua Net. In the 2013 Tasmanian bushfire coverage in Southern Australia, the corpus of data includes media texts collected from The Australian and The Mercury. Both sets of primary data include texts released during the period when the events were intensely traced by the media and the public. In analyzing these data a systematic theoretic framework is set up consisting of the theories of representation, discourse and power, identity, cultural identity, national cultural identity, media framing and narratives. The analytic method designed in this study is discourse analysis supplemented by cluster criticism adaptable to processing units of textual expressions in this study. Through investigation this study finds that a war narrative and a discourse of resistance ensued, that are constructed to represent meaning of shared cultural identity from which a cohesive sense of belonging is generated and therefore the sense of crisis is reduced and relieved. In the war narrative, disorderly information in the natural disaster crisis is narrated, framed, and discursively formulated into a storytelling about the war of resistance from “we” as a collective identity to the disaster as an imagined “invader” and “the Other”. In this interactive process of resistance the negative information is transferred to “the Other” and positive representation of “the heroic Chinese” or “the Tasmanians” as invincible, creates a cohesive sense of belonging which can relieve the disorientation and panic. It is found out that these signifying practices discursively engage with the broad social culture of Chinese nationalism. This thesis sees this discursive process as a power-driven practice structured to modulate and integrate the imaginations of the public about the event and therefore enforce crisis control. With these findings, this thesis produces an extended knowledge about the role of media and its mediated meaning production in contributing to crisis control in natural disaster situations. The two case studies in this thesis illustrate how frameworks underpinning the discourse of resistance and the construction of a war narrative can be applied to enhance disaster relief.
Advisor: Pugsley, Peter C.
Song, Xianlin
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2015
Keywords: natural disasters; Chinese state media; war narrative; cultural identities; discourse; representation; crisis control; Chinese nationalism
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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