Deep Dive into Digital and Data Methods for Chinese Studies Series

Photograph of Professor Daniela Stockmann

Professor Daniela Stockmann

Now in its second year, the “Deep Dive into Digital and Data Methods for Chinese Studies” series resumes this fall. We are pleased to announce Professor Daniela Stockmann’s visit on October 26 and 27. She will discuss the interconnections between social media and politics in China. A U-M alum, she is now Professor of Digital Politics and Media at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Lecture: Designing Authoritarian Deliberation: 

How Social Media Platforms Influence Political Talk in China


Time: Thursday, October 26, 2017 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Location: Clark Library Instructional Space (240 Hatcher Graduate Library)

Light refreshments will be provided.

Discussion is often celebrated as a critical element of public opinion and citizen participation in politics. Most researchers share the view that the effects of group conversation – online or offline – depend on the circumstances in which group discussion takes place. While early research focused on assessing the effects of the online environment more generally on political discourse, more recently scholars have suggested that the design and features of specific online platforms also shape what is politically expressed online and how. Building on these findings and drawing on semi-structured qualitative expert interviews with information and communications technology professionals at Tencent and Weibo, Stockmann explains how major Chinese social media differ in terms of their structure and the company’s motivation. She will specify which features are more likely to facilitate the emergence of online public opinion in Chinese social media and provide evidence from a nationwide representative survey as well as an online experiment. Results show that the effects of technology are stronger when political talk is less sensitive. Technological design matters only within the boundaries of authoritarian discourse.

Workshop: Bias in Social Media Data from China

Time: Friday, October 27, 2017 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Location: ULIC (4059 Shapiro Library)

The room is equipped with desktops, but please feel free to bring your own laptop if Stata software is installed on your machine. REGISTRATION is required.

           Many people believe that social media represent public opinion. Especially in China and other authoritarian states, social media are often regarded as an independent source of information. Yet in practice social media data have many limitations, most obviously bias stemming from unequal Internet access and government control over media.

In this workshop Professor Stockmann will discuss some of the less obvious sources of bias in Chinese social media data, most importantly, differences between active and passive users and differences between people who are willing to participate in research and who are not. During the workshop we will discuss these broader themes and walk through some concrete examples, analyzing survey data with Stata. If possible, please take a look at Stockmann’s forthcoming paper “Towards Area-Smart Data Science: Critical Questions for Working with Big Data from China” in advance of the workshop.

Speaker Bio: Daniela Stockmann is Professor of Digital Politics and Media at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Before joining the Hertie School faculty, she was Associate Professor of Political Science at Leiden University. She received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2007), and an MA in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2001).  Her research interests include comparative politics with a specialization on China, public opinion and political communication, research design, and more recently digital methods, big data, and data science as an emerging field. She applies theories and methods developed in research on media and public opinion to authoritarian politics, placing China into a broader comparative context. Stockmann's research has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Political Psychology, Political Communication, the China Quarterly, the Journal of Contemporary China, and other journals and edited volumes. Her book, Media Commercialization and Authoritarian Rule in China (Cambridge University Press, 2013), received the 2015 Goldsmith Book Prize for best academic book on media, politics, and public affairs from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. Her current research project, funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC), explores the impact of technological design of social media platforms on user behavior regarding politics. More information is available at

The Series: “Deep Dive”  is co-sponsored by the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies (LRCCS) and the Asia Library, and is co-directed by Mary Gallagher (Professor of Political Science and Director of LRCCS) and Liangyu Fu (Chinese Studies Librarian, Asia Library).