Political discourse in the knowledge economy: edutainment as a genre


  • Xuefei Tang Tilburg University




knowledge economy, political discourse, self-branding, social media, edutainment


In the socio-political context of a strategic transformation of public diplomacy in China, non-governmental discourses such as intellectual discourses have been showing increasing visibility both online and offline, at home and abroad. Through a digital ethnographic approach, this study investigates the meaning-making of the political discourse that uses edutainment as a genre by foregrounding the media activities of a commercial media company branded by Guan Media and the media discourse of an involved intellectual. Social media are changing the normality of knowledge production and distribution and the traditional media communication logic. Whether it is market-based filter bubble and echo chamber, politically controlled censorship, or spontaneous grassroots engagement, what is important is why and how mainstream discourses are constructed because of these factors through social media as a new form of political communication. To show the complexity of media communication of political messages in China, micro-level close observation on highly visible forms of news production and distribution by non-government actors is necessary.  There are two levels of analysis in this study: self-branding of researchers in the knowledge economy, and edutainment as a genre of political discourse. Multimodal discourse analysis is adopted to discover the specific discursive and media strategies through the theoretical lenses of knowledge-power structure and semiotics. The cooperation of commercial media companies and intellectuals from higher education is found to be promoting a new form of political communication, in which edutainment works as a genre for better media presentation. In the context of the knowledge economy, edutainment content adjusts to the ideological dynamics of the socio-political reality in China in the tide of globalization and digitalization. This study contributes to understanding the participation of non-governmental actors in political communication and public sentiment on politics when political communication has become more dynamic and better organized by adjusting to the new media age.