WeChatting the Australian Election: Mandarin-Speaking Migrants and the Teaching of New Citizenship Practices

SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Media and Society, 2020, 6, (1), pp. 1-11
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© The Author(s) 2020. With the number of Mandarin-speaking migrants on the rise in Australia and the centrality of Chinese social media platforms among a large majority of this cohort, it is time that we examined the role of WeChat in political communication and citizenship education among Chinese migrants. In the lead-up to the May 2019 federal election, WeChat became a political campaigning battlefield in which candidates held live WeChat sessions with Chinese Australian voters. Despite much discussion about WeChat’s impact on Australian politics, there is little understanding of its potential educational role in citizen-making: to what extent does WeChat educate new citizens about Australia’s political system, democratic values, and electoral processes? This article uses the 2019 federal election as a prism through which to explore civic education and citizen-making in the digital space of WeChat. Drawing on online surveys, sustained digital ethnographic observation, and in-depth one-on-one interviews, we ask whether and how the work of certain individuals in this digital space engenders a new form of community leadership and a more engaged form of civic behavior. We also assess WeChat’s potential in facilitating the process of political integration for new migrants from authoritarian societies.
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