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One country, two perspectives: social control through news media framing during the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong




Potter, Chelsey, author
Mao, KuoRay, advisor
Nowacki, Jeffrey, committee member
Long, Ziyu, committee member

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In 2014, Chinese citizens living in mainland China and Hong Kong received different narratives and interpretations of the Umbrella Movement's events based on the administrative regions they lived in and the news sources they had access to. State-controlled and market-based media outlets purposively manipulated frames of both ongoing and historical events of civil unrest in Hong Kong and China to shape citizens' perceptions of political events and the formation of particular identities and political behaviors. It is critical to understand the news frames employed by the media outlets with different political orientations in mainland China and Hong Kong to create an analytical framework that may contribute to the study of social control in post-colonial and authoritarian political settings, which may be applied to future civil unrest events across the world, such as the 2019 Hong Kong and the 2021 U.S. Capitol unrests. Using NVivo, a qualitative content analysis of 499 articles was conducted to identify common frames employed by ideologically different news media outlets in Hong Kong and China. The findings of this study revealed three unique narrative frames expressed to the public regarding the same event. This broadly resulted in Pro-Establishment, Pro-Status-Quo, and Pro-Universal Suffrage perspectives. The Pro-Establishment perspective is non-sympathetic to Hong Kong's sovereignty or dissent and movements against the Chinese Communist Party. The Pro-Universal Suffrage perspective is sympathetic to protesters, supports the movement against mainland China's authority over suffrage, and reports cases of unjust persecution of activists. The Pro-Status-Quo perspective is concerned with the economic and social stability of Hong Kong during the movement, wanting to maintain the homeostasis of economic growth. The selective framing of protest movements represents the state's attempt to impose social control through criminal selectivity, which fits the protest paradigm and moral entrepreneur perspectives in cultural criminology and frame analysis. A framework to analyze media coverage of social unrest in different political and social contexts is included in the appendix.


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criminal selectivity
Hong Kong
social control
cultural criminology
Occupy Central


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