Social Media and the Experience Economy in China's Micro-Philanthropy

Yu, H 2017, 'Social Media and the Experience Economy in China's Micro-Philanthropy' in M Kent, K Ellis, J Xu (ed.) Chinese Social Media, Routledge, London, United Kingdom, pp. 9-21.

Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title Social Media and the Experience Economy in China's Micro-Philanthropy
Author(s) Yu, H
Year 2017
Title of book Chinese Social Media
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Editor(s) M Kent, K Ellis, J Xu
Start page 9
End page 21
Subjects Media Studies
Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies
Asian Cultural Studies
Summary Since 2011, the idea of citizen-led philanthropy has been emerging in China (Yu, 2015a). This is represented by media-savvy, socially engaged and globally connected individuals who, aided by social media, wedge into the grey areas of social welfare, charity and philanthropy, including environmental protection, education, food security, labour rights, animal rights and health. They call on fellow citizens to pay attention to particular issues, rally support for a particular cause, and mobilise donors and volunteers to help those in need. Such citizen-initiated and -led philanthropic action is, in the first instance, unofficial, unplanned, uncoordinated, spontaneous and grassroots. It often derives from an individuals wish or drive to help those in need, and it builds upon individual social networks to rally support and resources. It is built on small amounts in donation, small pieces of information, small words of kindness and small acts of courage, all mediated and transmitted via social media such as Weibo (the Chinese term for microblogging), Weixin (the Chinese term for micromessaging and Chinas most popular social application) or WeChat (the English version of Weixin) and QQ (Chinas oldest and still most popular instant messaging tool). The two micro (wei) social media platforms, Weibo and Weixin, are central to the emergence and development of this microphilanthropy. Microphilanthropy thus can be defined as altruistic, social media-enabled, citizen-driven, unofficial, sustained and often small-to-large scale civic activism. This definition excludes ad hoc and once-off efforts initiated by individuals that ask for donations to cover private expenses, such as medical costs of a sick child; unlike charity, philanthropy emphasises enabling rather than simply giving. These digitally connected, mediated and sustained, and loosely connected civic associations are core to our understanding of citizen activism in Web 2.0 China.
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