The Internet,Public Crisis and Social Identity
Hu Baijing;the School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China;
The Internet reconstructs the order of information dissemination and power relations during a public crisis and facilitates the redistribution of discourse power. Therefore, from a micro perspective, it further complicates a specific crisis; while from a macro perspective, it intensifies the uncertainty of social risks. In the context of a public crisis, through the redistribution of discourse power, the Internet promotes competitions among a diversity of opinions and disintegrates the traditional mechanism of opinion expression, the mechanism of social trust and the legitimate mechanism of decision making and power exercising. In the meantime, the Internet also creates space for social actions. This space, integrating the virtual space with the real world, enables the public to"upgrade"from onlookers and expressers to active movers. Dialogue among plural subjects in the society should be deemed a basic notion and the approach to public crisis management in the era of the Internet should renew the discourse order, reconstruct the mechanisms of trust and legitimacy, and cultivate a sense of identity and community in a pluralist context.