Bo Wang

PhD Student in Media Studies

Participatory Engagement in the Web 2.0 Era: A Study of Chinese Social Media Fan Culture

Supervisors: Dr Joost de Bruin, Dr Michael Daubs & A/Prof Stephen Epstein (School of Languages and Cultures)


This thesis investigates the formation, manifestation and influence of its online fandom on Chinese social media platforms to explore the connection between media platforms, fans’ participatory practices and fan identities. Following the theoretical approach of cultural discourse analysis, the research applies snowball sampling and digital ethnography to reach the informants and collect data from individual interviews and participant observations in the fandom of reality show Where Are We Going, Dad? and BBC drama Sherlock. The project examines four platforms that Chinese social media fans use most frequently, Weibo, WeChat, Tieba and Bilibili, and it gains insight into the different affordances provided by these platforms and how Chinese fans can employ the four platforms to discover the target contents, to connect with each other, to participate in the production and spread of fannish texts, and to develop the fan culture in social media. Through the analysis of platforms, fannish texts and fans, I will argue that the seemingly decentred Web 2.0 world does not does not represent an egalitarian and democratic media environment as internet companies claim, and the intimate relationship between media platforms, fannish texts and fans boosts a power hierarchy in fandom.


Bo Wang is an international PhD student working on contemporary Chinese social media culture. Having eight years experience of fansubbing and three years working experience in Chinese media industry, Bo incorporates his insider knowledge in academic research in the field of fan studies and media studies, opening a window to Chinese fan culture and more complicated Chinese society.