An analysis of cultural dissemination and national image construction in Chinese influencer Li Ziqi’s vlogs and its impact on international viewer perceptions on YouTube

Thomas William Whyke, Troy Chen, Joaquin Lopez-Mugica

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

Abstract

International social exchanges have always been important to China’s cultural soft power and image construction overseas. This study focuses on an internationally renowned mega influencer Li Ziqi and her vlogs on YouTube. These orchestrated vlogs tell stories of rural Chinese life and construct a desirable traditional Chinese rural culture for netizens at home and abroad. Informed by framing and cultivation theory, this study examines how user-generated content on national images can affect social media users’ perceptions of reality. Content analysis is used to analyze the visual portrayals of Chinese rural culture, including its customs and values, aesthetics, and cultural and scenic places in Li’s vlogs. Discourse analysis is further used to examine user comments and demonstrate her vlog content’s impact on user perceptions of Chinese rural culture. This study sheds light on how a complex and hybrid national image with ‘Chineseness,’ and a personal image with self-Orientalized and performed ‘soft but independent’ Chinese rural female image, is constructed by a social media influencer Li Ziqi with affective associations. At a conceptual and practical level, the findings of this study contribute to the ongoing scholarly discussions on how China engages with the globalized world through cultural diplomacy from the bottom-up, while existing research primarily takes a top-down approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalJournal of Chinese Sociology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Cultural diplomacy
  • Cultural dissemination
  • Cultural soft power
  • Influencer
  • Li Ziqi
  • National image construction
  • Self-orientalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)

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