Managing the micro-self: the governmentality of real name registration policy in Chinese microblogosphere
(2015) Information Communication and Society, 18 p. Article in Press.
This paper investigates the real name registration (RNR) policy introduced by Chinese authorities in 2011 to regulate its vibrant microblogosphere by encouraging users to manage their ‘micro-self’. Foucault’s concept of governmentality is adopted to understand how the Chinese state ‘governs at a distance’ its colossal microblog population through technologies of the state and technologies of the self. We provide a critical case study of the governmentality of the RNR policy in Chinese microblogosphere by detailing the broad range of user experiences based on 22 in-depth interviews conducted in 2012 and 2013 with users and weibo editors. Shedding a new light on the practices of Chinese Internet regulation through the perspective of governmentality, we challenge the notion of the Chinese state as an omnipotent agent, contest popular media’s portrayal of the Chinese microblog subject as either obedient or resistant, and foreground the importance of Internet firms in mediating the negotiation between the state and users. © 2015 Taylor & Francis
anonymity; censorship; Chinese Internet; governmentality; identity; microblog; policy; real name registration; self-expression; Sina; Tencent; Weibo