Accepted Papers:

Chinese vernacular narratives – online “reality” made in China  


Aleksandra Brzostek (Nicolaus Copernicus University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explores the Chinese vernacular narratives as independent and not related to the Chinese government's propaganda stories that found on the Internet create a different "reality" in the censored media environment.

Paper long abstract:

Vernacular narratives, such as urban legends and conspiracy

theories belong to the vernacular culture, which is considered as the non-

professional, non-institutional and amateur culture. These stories can provide a

window to understanding the concerns and fears of Chinese modern society.

Currently, China is facing challenges in regards to the radical socio-economic


Vernacular narratives can give us insight into how the Chinese society is trying to

accustom itself to new meaningful changes. Thanks to these narratives we can

attempt to understand the social construction of the community in unique ways.

It is important that vernacular narratives are independent and, as such, they are

not related to the government's propaganda. They are non-regime, unless the

government is the source of the rumor. At this point, it is possible to assume

that the "authentic"

voice of the Chinese people, can be found within these narratives.

However, the same stories found on the Internet create a different "reality" in

the censored media environment. Media censorship in China was created to

avoid potential subversion of the Chinese government’s authority. In this case,

the Internet is not a place of free speech but an area of filtered information with

the “supernatural” twist.

Therefore, the online story about Falun Gong, Chinese spiritual practice, won’t

be a story of persecuting its followers and mass murders for transplantation

purposes but it will be a story of the interference of the American government,

in the form of Falun Gong organization, into Chinese government’s interests. It

seems that the “authentic” voice of the Chinese people can be found more

quickly "on the street" than on the Chinese Internet, we just have to listen


Panel Digi04
Digital ethnography and transformations: tracking cultural expressions in the contemporary world [W]