Celebrity-inspired, Fan-driven: Doing Philanthropy through Social Media in Mainland China

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Asian Studies Review, 2017, 41 (2), pp. 244 - 262
Issue Date:
2017-04-03
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© 2017 Asian Studies Association of Australia. This paper provides the first detailed study of the links between celebrity-fan communication networks and philanthropy in the People’s Republic of China. It explains how the evolution of the Chinese Internet, and especially the rise of social media, has created new spaces in which fans of entertainment celebrities may be induced to engage with philanthropic causes. It then outlines the history of Chinese fan-driven philanthropic initiatives centred on people who became famous through reality-television popular music competitions. Finally, it offers a case study of the initiatives connected to popstar Li Yuchun, and examines the rationales provided by fans in online forums and interviews for their philanthropic engagement. Critics of celebrity-inspired philanthropy highlight its supposedly inauthentic and passive nature. Yet we find that fans actively exploit the forms of sociality that are provided by celebrity-fan communication networks, both to establish virtual participatory communities and to generate social action in the form of non-government-organised volunteering.
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