Information Bridges: Understanding the Informational Role of Network Brokerages in Polarised Online Discourses

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11420)


Social networking and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and Weibo have provided new platforms of public discussions for Internet users. As the number of online social movements has increased in recent years, the Chinese government has adopted new media and has strategically confronted online social movements with orchestrated campaigns, which lead to a dichotomy between the Chinese government and civil society. Using a network analysis perspective, this research aims at studying the polarization of Chinese online political discourse, by examining who are playing the key roles in bridging different voices and exchanging various viewpoints in an online debate. I collected data from a conversation network in a massive online protest on Weibo, visualised the polarization between the Chinese government and civil society, and analysed the typological differences between the two groups. This research demonstrated the structural role of brokers in information diffusion within conversation network by using Susceptible-Infected (SI) simulation, showing that brokerage plays a key role in bridging the polarized online opinions and facilitating information diffusion. Taking a social network analysis perspective, this research re-examined Chinese contentious social movement under its political regime and can shed lights onto the understanding of the structural and informational roles of network brokerages for the deliberative democracy.


Information diffusion Social media China Social network analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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