From National Education to Brainwashing: The dynamic framing contest and media strategies in a Hong Kong student movement

TitleFrom National Education to Brainwashing: The dynamic framing contest and media strategies in a Hong Kong student movement
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Lin, S., and F. Lin
Affiliation (1st Author)City University of Hong Kong
Section or WGMediated Communication, Public Opinion and Society Section
DateSat 29 June
Slot CodeMCPS1a
Slot Code (Keyword)MCPS1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleMedia Social Activism and Protest
Submission ID6618

Scholars have been interested in the role of media in a social movement for decades. Various studies have documented the interactive media-movement dynamics especially during the framing contest process. The rise of new communication technology has compelled us to further investigate such dynamics in an evolving media environment. What are the effective media strategies for movement organizers in the digital era? To what extend does the social media affect the role of news media, or vice versa? Through which mechanism can the media-movement interactions modify the constraints constructed by movement resources, the organizational structure and the political opportunity? This study aims to explore these questions by conducting a detail case study on a most recent student movement in Hong Kong. We specifically focus on the contested framing process in the movement and analyze the movement’s media strategies and their impacts on the movement’s success.The case in point was the student movement against the Moral and National Education (MNE) program which was proposed by the Hong Kong government. In May 2011, a group of middle school students organized the Scholarism as the flagship organization of the movement. Led by the “post-90s generation”, the Scholarism has successfully recruited its members through Facebook, mobilized supports from various groups and organized several large-scale protests. In October 2012, the government had to permanently suspend the MNE program. Through this thorough case study, we analyze how the newly born organization mobilized its constituents via social media. We examine how they won the framing contest against the internal oppositional fractions, the mainstream media and the government at the different stages of the movement. We also indentify key factors that facilitated the movement’s success and discuss its implications on the dedicated relationship between the post-colonial Hong Kong and authoritarian Beijing. Our analysis is based on data we collected through multiple methods. First, for the movement frames including both the Scholarism’s and the governments’, we collected public statements, press release, Facebook pages, propaganda posters and videos and on-site slogans. Second, to analyze mainstream media frames, we collected related news coverage on the movement from major news outlets in Hong Kong. We draw information directly from the major media’s websites as well as from Wisenews – a database that provides full-text articles from newspapers from both Hong Kong and Mainland China. Third, in order to get a better picture on the internal framing contest process, we also interviewed some key members in the Scholarism. Forth, to fully understand the effectiveness of both movement and media frames, we conducted three focus-group interviews. Both mainland Chinese and Hong Kong students were recruited to discuss their personal experience in the movement and their interpretations on both the movement and media frames.

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