18/03/2021    (Thursday) 13:00-14:00 E21B-G002

Monetised Digital Platforms: The discursive, multi-modal techniques of China’s female and male wanghong (internet celebrities)

The development and spread of the internet and social media technologies across China have provided people with alternative pathways for achieving celebrity status and wealth. Such persons, known as wanghong (internet celebrities), can achieve fame by promoting themselves and their online content on a variety of monetised platforms, such as Weibo, Taobao, or Bilibili, giving rise to what is called a ‘wanghong economy’. Using a social semiotic, multimodal approach, this study examines the techniques of wanghong, and the affordances of the digital platforms used to communicate celebrity-fan interaction. In particular, it looks at how intimacies are created through the performance of a ‘back-story’ that is designed to communicate a wanghong’s distinct identity, while upholding to socially-sanctioned values and beliefs admired and promoted on Chinese media. It also shows how followers respond through their online comments and are then led across platforms to make purchases that these wanghong promote. This study demonstrates the creativity of China’s social media platforms.

Speaker Bio:

Ms. Wang is a Doctoral student in the Department of Communication, FSS. She has presented papers at international conferences, including the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association, USA, in the areas of social media analysis and cross-cultural adaptation. She is currently co-authoring a paper with Todd Sandel for a special issue of Discourse, Context & Media on Chinese Social Media, to appear in August 2021.