Deconstructing Chinese online community: users' participation in Bilibili live stream channels
Current studies of the Chinese Internet and society describe Chinese Internet users’ activities as the mobility transferred from the offline to the online world. They also regard the Chinese Internet and Communication Technologies (ICT) as liberating which support democratic development. These studies understood the power of Chinese Internet users in disseminating information but neglected the new developments of Chinese ICT. This means they have ignored the power of Chinese Internet user in consuming entertaining content. This power might become the base of constructing community spirit, which will help construct the online communities, especially the ones practising consumption on entertainment content, such as anime, comics and games (ACG). This is the research gap that this thesis fills. By using participant observation and micro-level analysis, this thesis seeks to explain the participation of live streamers and viewers and their construction of the community in live streaming channels on the Chinese site Bilibili. This case was selected because existing studies have not told the impacts of popular live streaming and Bilibili’s commercialisation on forming community spirit in live stream channels. Contributing to the existing studies of Chinese Internet and society, this thesis argues that the participation of live streamers and viewers shows the collective mobility of users in carrying out consumption of online entertaining content in the fast developing Chinese live streaming industry. This thesis also examines the role of the Chinese government in regulating live streaming sites by both restricting information provision of live streaming sites and requiring the submission of live streamers’ identification information. This thesis contributes to understanding the actors of the Chinese government, site and users in the development of a Chinese online community.