The Role of the Media in China’s Environmental Protection

Type Working Paper - Stetson University
Title The Role of the Media in China’s Environmental Protection
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that in China, a developing nation, the media’s
role in environmental protection is that of a key socialization agent. This implies that
people’s actions and attitudes toward environmental protection are largely shaped and
influenced by media content. Specifically, socialization refers to the ongoing process by
which people learn attitudes, values, and behaviors consistent with their social setting.
Here, an agent of socialization refers to an entity or structured context, which formally or
informally provides information or instruction regarding appropriate social behavior.
In a developed society, the media is considered among a person’s chief socialization
agents. This role is largely determined by the extensive penetration of the media into
daily life. As content varies with producer, media influence is further determined by the
entity controlling a given media outlet.
This research is based on a brief ethnographic study conducted over five weeks in order
to provide a general understanding of the setting in which the Chinese media operate. The
goal of an ethnographic study is to identify routine practices, problems and possibilities
for development within a given context.
In addition to cultural observation, information was gathered through review of
previous scholarly research, government documents and publications, interviews, and
rural household surveys. Previous scholarly research includes journal articles and related
publications exploring the evolution of the Chinese media. Government documents were
accessed online and via the Chinese Center for Agricultural Policy (CCAP) library.
Interviews refer to formal and informal conversations with Chinese scholars, students and
common citizens. Finally, approximately thirty rural household surveys were conducted in Sichuan
Province in which a Chinese translator assisted student researchers. The household head
was asked a series of open and closed ended questions. Often a local government official
was present at the time of the survey. While not statistically significant, this survey
offers anecdotal evidence of some current trends in terms of the media’s influence on
environmental protection in China.

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