Politics & Communication

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. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2021.1977327

[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). Staying tuned for censored information sources? A media habit approach to immigrants' information practices. Paper 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 (2023). Rhizomic social movement online: Contesting the legitimacy of DingTalk on Bilibili. Abstract accepted by Global Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images (Special Issue: Asian Satirical Activism and Youth Culture in the COVID-19 Pandemic).


Drawing upon Foucault’s original concept and Beckett et al.’s (2017) further development, this article analyses the contestation of DingTalk’s legitimacy on Bilibili. Through analyzing the text, diffusion, and reception of both user-generated videos contesting DingTalk’s legitimacy and the videos produced by DingTalk itself, I argue that (1) the network of videos contesting DingTalk’s legitimacy can be regarded as a movement combining the characteristics of cloud and rhizomic social movement; (2) Rather than a pathway to the “essential freedom” (Foucault 1982, 790), such discursive struggle is more characterized by “reciprocal incitation and struggle” (ibid). Analysis following the chronological sequence of the struggle shows that, besides creating a space for alternative discursive formations, parodies mocking DingTalk also offered DingTalk an easy entrance to the heterotopia of resistance by inciting it and demanding its response. While a solemn challenge may demand an earnest answer, in DingTalk’s case, the playful nature of the parodies rendered the demanded answer essentially just a matter of gesture. (3) However, the heterochronic nature of the online space lifts the movement out of temporal constraints. For most latecomers who have not witnessed how the contestation unfolded over time, the sequence of rebellious videos and the official appropriation is inconspicuous. Meanwhile, the algorithm recommendation system and user-generated comments always juxtapose rebellious videos with the official ones, constituting an everlasting debate that can be repeatedly replayed and reflected upon. In this sense, the movement has never ended, and therefore, has never failed. It can be regarded as a building block of a larger online rhizomic movement negotiating our self-determination in the web of power. Just like rhizomes, the movement spreads online in a non-linear fashion, marked by sudden breakouts and constant resonance. There are cul-de-sacs here and there, but the movement itself never truly ends.

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


Regarding modern conspiracy theories as reactionary responses to the rationalization of worldviews defined as the differentiation of three validity claims (propositional truth, normative rightness, and subjective truthfulness) (Habermas, 1984), we combine social network analysis and qualitative thematic analysis to illustrate the networks and narratives of anti-CCP conspiracy theorists on YouTube. We identified three segments of anti-CCP conspiratorial YouTubers based on their mutual endorsement, namely the Falun Gong circle and the “Whistle Blower Movement” (WBM) sect, alongside a loosely connected residual of political dissidents. In the network that emerged naturally from shared viewership, however, only the WBM channels were still tightly connected with each other in an exclusive way. Our thematic analysis of eight representative channels illustrates how anti-CCP conspiratorial YouTubers leap from basic facts to morally embellished informative fiction, and manufacture political efficacy through moral tales.

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.

Dumdum, Omar, Qin, Abby Youran, Dubree, Wil. (2023). Does media exposure moderate the political influence of family networks? Evidence from the 2019 Philippine Election. Paper to be presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), Chicago, USA.

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.