Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Judging “them” by my media use – Exploring the cause and consequences of perceived selective exposure. Mass Communication and Society, 2(25), 237-259.

[Download the accepted author version here!]

Conference Presentation

Qin, Abby Youran (2020). Judging “them” by my media use – Adapting the “influence of presumed influence” model for a polarized media environment. Paper presented at the 103rd Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), San Francisco, U.S.


Focusing on Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill movement and drawing on a sample of 527 pro-democracy Hong Kong students, this paper investigates the relations among selective exposure, perceived selective exposure, presumed media influence, and their potential consequences. It shows that individuals’ assumption of the outgroup’s media diet is a mirror image of their own media choices. The more an individual consumes like-minded information, the more he/she expects outgroup members to do so. On the contrary, the more one uses cross-cutting media, the more he/she expects outgroup members to engage in cross-cutting exposure as well. Individuals’ perceived media exposure of the outgroup will further influence their presumed media influence on the outgroup, which may trigger potential attitudinal and behavioral reactions. The findings shed new light on the consequences of selective exposure. Besides directly influencing us through pro-attitudinal information, selective exposure can also affect us indirectly, by making us believe that our rivals are also engaging in and polarized by selective exposure to ideologically congruent sources.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). What about this blockchain thing? New Media & Society. New Media & Society, 24(12), 2763-2770.


Although blockchain has thrust into the mainstream with a plethora of speculative cryptocurrencies and NFTs, it possesses broader usage and implications in the field of information and communication. I start this essay with an introduction to Blockchain and the Law, a comprehensive overview of the technology’s affordance and various applications. De Filippi and Wright have discussed three features – autonomy, resilience, and tamper resistance – that make blockchains both attractive and dangerous. I will add another feature – replicability – and analyse the four features’ manifestations in blockchain-based communication technologies. Then, through a critical review of Magnuson’s Blockchain Democracy, I will demystify the spurious connection between ‘decentralization’ and ‘democracy’. Finally, Regulating Blockchain approaches the technology from a critical perspective. Herian draws on history and dystopian literature to argue that blockchain is just the latest embodiment of neoliberal ideologies celebrating commercialization, market competition, and techno-solutionism. This view has its merit, yet risks over-simplification. I will address Herian’s critique by discussing blockchain’s potential as a civic technology that empowers civil society in face of state and capital.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Book Review: The Media Manifesto. Information, Communication & Society, OnlineFirst.


While local communities’ power in fostering healthy democracy has been repeatedly demonstrated by social science research (e.g., Achen & Bartels, 2017; Putnam, 2001), media and communication studies, to a large extent, still harp on mainstream media and giant social media platforms. Scholars fault Silicon Valley for giving wings to fake news and extreme voices, while reminiscing about the good old days when different families sat in front of the television every evening watching the same national news. The Media Manifesto confronts such tendencies. Natalie Fenton, Des Freedman, Justin Schlosberg, and Lina Dencik each write a chapter dissecting current challenges the global media system faces and then jointly propose an action plan to tackle them. They articulate a vision of media and data justice that surpasses both our bleak reality and the gilded old days, a revolutionary imagination of the future and a utopia that can become real.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Book Review: The Evolution of the Chinese Internet: Creative Visibility in the Digital Age. New Media & Society, 24(1), 246-251.


Many political communication studies about China focus on a “repressive state vs. resistant society” contrast. In this dichotomy, “the state” always imposes its oppression through censorship and propaganda, while “the civil society” constantly pursues its liberation by expressing dissent. Against this backdrop, in The Evolution of the Chinese Internet, Shaohua Guo presents the “network of visibility” model as a new framework to examine the Chinese political communication landscape. Centering the dynamic negotiations among actors sharing a pursuit of market popularity and content authority, the network of visibility model troubles the “state vs. civil society” dichotomy by allowing scholars to critically examine the roles played by the government, media, internet platforms, and numerous individual players. This approach enables a nuanced depiction of discursive struggles on the Chinese internet and reveals a wider variety of ideological interpellations, such as the neoliberal ideologies of consumerism and social Darwinism, in addition to the cliche of pro-regime propaganda.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Staying tuned for censored information sources? A media habit approach to immigrants' information practices. Paper to be presented at the 108th Annual National Communication Association (NCA) Conference, New Orleans, USA. [Top Student Paper Award, Political Communication Division]


Why do people opt for censored information sources when there is a wide range of alternatives? Adopting Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field, this paper bridges psychological and structural factors to explain the continued use of censored sources among mainland Chinese students (MCSs) in Hong Kong. Through media diaries and semi-structured interviews of 17 MCSs, I have obtained a nuanced picture of MCSs’ information practices and disentangled the roles played by contextual cues (algorithm recommendation in particular), social networks, information ecosystems, as well as cultural and political identities in shaping MCSs’ media habits. I have further proposed a generalized research program on immigrants’ media habits connecting intrapersonal deliberation, micro-level contextual cues, meso-level social networks, and macro-level information structure and social culture. Attentive to the habitual nature of attitudes and behaviors, the proposed framework contributes to the understanding of immigrants’ resocialization in host societies. It also differentiates the immediate virtual and physical fields directly inhabited by immigrants and the secondary socio-cultural context. To balance immigrants’ information diet, one shall attend to not only the politics of press freedom and media plurality in their home and host societies, but also the micro-politics of human-machine interaction and interpersonal networks.

Qin, Abby Youran, Xiao, F., & Dai, L. (2022). Tell China's story well: Anti-CPC YouTube influencers and their audience. Paper to be presented at the 108th Annual National Communication Association (NCA) Conference, New Orleans, USA.

Rahoof, K. K. A., & Qin, Abby Youran (2022). Differentiated narratives of parallel conflicts: A comparative analysis of Indian, Chinese, and Western media discourse on Kashmir and Xinjiang. Paper presented at the 72nd Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Paris, France.

Additional Conference Presentation

Rahoof, K. K. A., & Qin, Abby Youran (2021). Differentiated narratives of parallel conflicts: A comparative analysis of Indian, Chinese, and Western media discourse on Kashmir and Xinjiang. Paper presented at the Narrating Cold Wars Conference, Hong Kong. [Watch my presentation video here!]


Comparing media discourses of Kashmir and Xinjiang through the lens of critical geopolitics, this study connects different parties’ narratives of conflict zones to a global discursive contestation against the backdrop of a ‘New Cold War’. Focusing on Western and domestic media’s coverage of Kashmir and Xinjiang, our study yields three findings. First, while both Indian and Chinese media attempted to portray normalcy and development, Western liberal media held onto their professionalism and tried to uncover the concealed conflicts and struggles. Although Western media held the same standard in reporting facts about Kashmir and Xinjiang, their interpretations were discriminatory. Our second finding shows that both Indian media and the New York Times framed the Indian government’s crackdown on Kashmir as part of the US-led Global War on Terror. While the Chinese media’s attempts to legitimize the government’s actions in Xinjiang as anti-terrorism measures were fiercely debunked by the Western media, who used the Xinjiang case to exemplify the Chinese government’s systematic oppression of minorities. Third, while Western media tended to portray human rights problems in Kashmir as sporadic and endemic, they portrayed the human rights infringement in Xinjiang as systematic and symptomatic. Indian media, though downplayed or negated human rights violations, still understood human rights in line with the Western Enlightenment tradition. Chinese media, however, challenged the Western charges by redefining human rights in favor of security and economic development. In sum, Western media held a Euro-centric perspective, regarding Kashmir as a remote area marred by wars while Xinjiang as a region captured and tortured by China. Despite some factual contentions, Indian media’s reports of Kashmir were within the hegemonic geopolitical framework laid out by Euro-Americans. Chinese media, conversely, posed a fundamental challenge to this narrative, seeking to promote an alternative geopolitical paradigm accentuating the Chinese interests and aspirations.

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). I choose you: Reading and transcending women's condition in games of the women, by the women, for the women. Paper presented at the 72nd Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Paris, France.


Romantic interactive novels (RINs) are video games where players assume the protagonist’s role and experience romantic relationships from the first-person point of view. Made and consumed by ordinary women, RINs constitute a fertile ground for both conservative and emancipatory gender politics. Informed by Beauvoir’s feminist existentialism, this paper inspects three types of unconventional RINs, looking for alternative representations of women and romantic love. I find that girls in “strong hero strong heroine” RINs are strong and intelligent, yet innocent and passive in romantic relationships. Empresses in matriarchal RINs, despite being powerful and dominant, are more like men residing in women’s bodies when being read against our social reality of sheer gender inequality. A truly subversive womanhood is exemplified by Lingque, a female character in a male point-of-view RIN, who led an authentic life by following her subjectivity, making choices, and bearing consequences. I also discuss how women’s representations in RINs can potentially influence players’ real-world practice of womanhood.

Jiang, X., Wang, Y., Li, J., Kim, J., Qin, Abby Youran, Yang, F., Wagner, M., Shah, D., & Wells, C. (2022). Perception of partisan news use and the dynamics of political conversation in the United States. Paper presented at the 72nd Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Paris, France.

Qin, Abby Youran (2021). Incarnating care-based organization: Internal and external organization strategies of Filipino domestic workers' organizations in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 71th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, online.


This paper studies the internal and external organization strategies of Filipino domestic workers’ (FDWs) organizations in Hong Kong. By analyzing data collected through participant observation in FDW organizations as well as interviews with organization members and ordinary FDWs, I argue that FDW organizations in Hong Kong focus on internal organization aiming at building a prototype FDW activists’ community by providing participatory, emotional, and identity care to their members. Due to lack of resources and other objective constraints, rather than reaching out to take care of ordinary FDWs, FDW organizations’ external organization revolves around demonstrating the prototype community to ordinary FDWs, attracting those who share their lifestyle and political attitude while alienating those holding different opinions.

Chen, D., Qin, Abby Youran, & Xiao, F. (*These authors contributed equally to the work) (2021). Youth media prosumption and creative pre-political resistances in China. Panel presented at the #YouthMediaLife 2021 Conference, University of Vienna.


The past decades have seen a dramatic increase in internet use around the globe, evoking researchers’ imagination of the new media’s democratizing potential. In China, however, such fantasy is overshadowed by unparalleled internet censorship. Growing up in this dual-process of internet expansion and freedom contraction, youth in China have developed a unique way of political expression. By making offensive mash-up videos, flooding the App Store with negative comments, generating creative memes, etcetera, they issue their resistance against the state and giant corporations implicitly, through creative media and communication. Focusing on Chinese youth’s pre-political resistance on the internet, the three studies included in this panel aim at providing a nuanced picture of the vibrant youth struggles inside China’s great firewall.

Qin, Abby Youran, Cheng, Y., & Beattie, P. (2020). Can immigrants be polarized by information sources? Paper presented at the 70th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Gold Coast, Australia.

Additional Conference Presentation

Qin, Abby Youran, & Cheng, Y. (2019). Living in Hong Kong, listening to the mainland: an investigation into information practices and ideology of new mainland Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Hong Kong - Kobe - Macau Joint Workshop on Political Behaviors, Kobe, Japan.


Testing for media effects on political attitude in the contemporary high-choice media environment, this study explores the political information sources and political attitude of immigrants who have access to both a relatively free information environment of their host society and a heavily censored information environment of their home society. We collected 512 valid responses from new mainland Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong through an online survey before the anti-extradition bill movement. The findings suggest that these new immigrants are exposed to mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, and overseas information sources simultaneously, with mainland Chinese sources being the most used. Exposure to mainland Chinese information sources predicts a relatively conservative political attitude and a further intensified conservative political attitude after migration, while exposure to Hong Kong and overseas information sources has the opposite effect.