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Constructing Authority in Times of Crisis : A Genre Analysis of Government Crisis Communication in China

Zhao, Hui LU (2018) In Journal of Communication Management 22(3).
Abstract
Purpose: This study investigates how the Chinese government generates authority during a crisis through discursive practices expressed in social media.

Design/methodology/approach: Using the theoretical framework of authority and the method of genre analysis, this study examined the top 100 forwarded posts on Weibo about a highprofile murder to determine the mechanisms involved in generating authority.

Findings: This study provides empirical support that building and maintaining authority distinguishes governments from other social actors during crisis communication. The genre analysis demonstrates that the strategic use of genre chain and genre mixing contributes to the construction of governments’ authority during a... (More)
Purpose: This study investigates how the Chinese government generates authority during a crisis through discursive practices expressed in social media.

Design/methodology/approach: Using the theoretical framework of authority and the method of genre analysis, this study examined the top 100 forwarded posts on Weibo about a highprofile murder to determine the mechanisms involved in generating authority.

Findings: This study provides empirical support that building and maintaining authority distinguishes governments from other social actors during crisis communication. The genre analysis demonstrates that the strategic use of genre chain and genre mixing contributes to the construction of governments’ authority during a crisis. Furthermore, this study suggests the performative and social constructionist approach to understand governments’ authority in the digital age on two levels: a situationally-constructed concept that goes beyond the context of fixed institutions and a relationally-constructed concept that is promoted through discursive collaboration among various social actors.

Research limitations/implications: This study does not directly assess the effectiveness of a government’s ability to construct its authority. Nor does it examine the construction of governments’ authority outside the context of an authoritarian regime. These issues should be addressed in future research.

Practical implications: This study offers governmental organizations some practical insights
that can be used to infuse a constructive aspect of authority into their crisis communication
plans, practices, and processes.

Originality/value: Here, authority is seen as a social construction that foregrounds the
discursive, performative, constructive, and communicative dimensions of crisis
communication. Moreover, this study points to the need for a more complex integrated perspective in crisis communication that includes and connects corporate and government
crisis communication. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
crisis communication, genre, authority, China, government, social construction
in
Journal of Communication Management
volume
22
issue
3
publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1363-254X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8ce534d6-97fe-4973-a008-59952162e8fa
date added to LUP
2018-05-31 23:24:21
date last changed
2018-07-11 10:57:51
@article{8ce534d6-97fe-4973-a008-59952162e8fa,
  abstract     = {Purpose: This study investigates how the Chinese government generates authority during a crisis through discursive practices expressed in social media. <br/><br/>Design/methodology/approach: Using the theoretical framework of authority and the method of genre analysis, this study examined the top 100 forwarded posts on Weibo about a highprofile murder to determine the mechanisms involved in generating authority. <br/><br/>Findings: This study provides empirical support that building and maintaining authority distinguishes governments from other social actors during crisis communication. The genre analysis demonstrates that the strategic use of genre chain and genre mixing contributes to the construction of governments’ authority during a crisis. Furthermore, this study suggests the performative and social constructionist approach to understand governments’ authority in the digital age on two levels: a situationally-constructed concept that goes beyond the context of fixed institutions and a relationally-constructed concept that is promoted through discursive collaboration among various social actors. <br/><br/>Research limitations/implications: This study does not directly assess the effectiveness of a government’s ability to construct its authority. Nor does it examine the construction of governments’ authority outside the context of an authoritarian regime. These issues should be addressed in future research.<br/><br/>Practical implications: This study offers governmental organizations some practical insights<br/>that can be used to infuse a constructive aspect of authority into their crisis communication<br/>plans, practices, and processes.<br/><br/>Originality/value: Here, authority is seen as a social construction that foregrounds the<br/>discursive, performative, constructive, and communicative dimensions of crisis<br/>communication. Moreover, this study points to the need for a more complex integrated perspective in crisis communication that includes and connects corporate and government<br/>crisis communication.},
  author       = {Zhao, Hui},
  issn         = {1363-254X},
  keyword      = {crisis communication,genre,authority,China,government,social construction},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {3},
  publisher    = {Emerald Group Publishing Limited},
  series       = {Journal of Communication Management},
  title        = {Constructing Authority in Times of Crisis : A Genre Analysis of Government Crisis Communication in China},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2018},
}