Guobin Yang, Ph.D.

Phone: 215-573-2296
Fax: 215-898-2024
Web Site

Digital media and social theory; social movements; online activism; global communication; cultural sociology; media and communication in China.

Guobin Yang is an Associate Professor of Communication and Sociology in the Annenberg School for Communication and Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research areas cover digital media, political communication, global communication, social movements, cultural sociology, and the sociology of China.

Prof. Yang's books include The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (Columbia University Press, 2009. Winner of best book award, Communication and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Association, 2010), Re-Envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China (edited with Ching-Kwan Lee, 2007), China's Red Guard Generation: Loyalty, Dissent, and Nostalgia, 1966-1999 (under contract, Columbia University Press), and Dragon-Carving and the Literary Mind (2 volumes. Library of Chinese Classics in English Translation, Beijing, 2003). 

Prof. Yang is a member of the editorial boards of The China Quarterly, Public Culture, Contemporary Sociology, and the International Convention for Asian Studies Publications Series of the Amsterdam University Press. He received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Writing and Research Grant” (2003) and was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington , D.C. (2003-2004). Previously he taught as an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and as an associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College of Columbia University. He has a Ph. D. in English Literature with a specialty in Literary Translation from Beijing Foreign Studies University (1993) and a second Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University (2000).


COMM 809 / SOCI 809 - Digital Media and Social Theory
COMM 849-301 - New Media and Social Transformation: Form, Feeling and Force
COMM 270-401 / SOCI 230-401 - Global Digital Activism
COMM 203-405 / SOCI 230-405 - China Today
COMM 870-401 / SOCI 820-401 - Media and Communication in China



Under contract. Loyalty, Dissent, and Nostalgia: China’s Red Guard Generation 1966-2009. Columbia University Press.

2009.  The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. New York: Columbia University Press. (Paperback edition with a new “Afterword,” 2011.) Reviewed in Nature, Current History, Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Affairs (capsule review), The Australian, Contemporary Sociology, International Journal of Communication, Asian Journal of Communication, Chinese Journal of Communication, The China Quarterly, The China Journal, China Information, China Review International, World Future Review, Mobilization: An International Journal, International Affairs, Publishing Research Quarterly, New Media & Society, Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences (China), Social Sciences Abroad (China) O’Reilly Media (blog), and Understanding Society (blog). Featured in a book review roundtable in Asia Policy (July 2010).

2007.   Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang (eds.).  Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China.  Washington D.C.: The Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press.

2003.   Dragon-Carving and the Literary Mind (an annotated English translation of Wenxin diaolong). 2 Vols. (Library of Chinese Classics in English Translation) Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.


2013. "Contesting Food Safety in Chinese Media: Between Hegemony and Counter- Hegemony." The China Quarterly. No. 214, 337-355.

2013. Yanhua Deng and Guobin Yang. "Pollution and Protest: Environmental Mobilization in Context." The China Quarterly. No. 214, 321-336.

2012. “A Chinese Internet? History, Practice, and Globalization.” Chinese Journal of Communication. Special issue on “Chinese Media and Globalization.” 5(1):49-54.

2011. “Technology and Its Contents: Issues in the Study of the Chinese Internet” The Journal of Asian Studies 70(4): 1043-1050. (Invited “trend” essay)

2010. "Brokering Environment and Health in China: Issue Entrepreneurs of the Public Sphere." Journal of Contemporary China Vol. 19, Issue 63:.101-118.

2009. “Online Activism.” Journal of Democracy 20(3): 33-36.  Symposium on “China since Tiananmen.”

2009. "The Internet as Cultural Form: Technology and the Human Condition in China." Knowledge, Technology & Policy 22(2): 109-115. Special issue on “Political Culture of Web 2.0 in Asia."

2009. "Of Sympathy and Play: Emotional Mobilization in Online Collective Action." The Chinese Journal of Communication and Society (Hong Kong), No. 9(2009): 39-66. [In Chinese]

2007. (with Craig Calhoun) “Media, Civil Society, and the Rise of a Green Public Sphere in China.” China Information. 21(2):211-236. [Reprinted in Peter Ho and Richard Edmonds (eds.), China's Embedded Activism: Opportunities and Constraints of a Social Movement. Routledge, 2008, pp.69-88.]

2007. “How Do Chinese Civic Associations Respond to the Internet: Findings from a Survey.” The China Quarterly 189: 122-143.

2006. "Activists beyond Virtual Borders: Internet–Mediated Networks and Informational Politics in China." First Monday Vol. 11, No. 9 (September).

2005. “Days of Old Are Not Puffs of Smoke: Three Hypotheses on Collective Memories of the Cultural Revolution.” The China Review 5(2): 13-41. 

2005.  (with Ming-Bao Yue) “Introduction: Gilded-Age Memories of the Cultural Revolution.” The China Review 5(2): 1-12.

2005.  “Environmental NGOs and Institutional Dynamics in China.” The China Quarterly.  181: 46-66.

2003. "China's Zhiqing Generation: Nostalgia, Identity, and Cultural Resistance in the 1990s." Modern China 29(3): 267-296.

2003. "The co-evolution of the Internet and Civil Society in China." Asian Survey. 43(3): 405-422.

2003. "The Internet and the Rise of a Transnational Chinese Cultural Sphere." Media, Culture & Society 25(4): 469-490.

2003. "The Internet and Civil Society in China: A Preliminary Assessment." Journal of Contemporary China. 12(36): 453 - 475.

2001.  (With Steven Pfaff).  “Political Commemorations as Symbolic Resources of Collective Action: Protest Mobilization in Eastern Europe and China in 1989." Theory and Society30: 539-589.

2000.  “The Liminal Effects of Social Movements: Red Guards and the Transformation of Identity.”  Sociological Forum 15(2): 379-406.

2000.  “Achieving Emotions in Collective Action: Emotional Processes and Movement Mobilization in the 1989 Chinese Student Movement.” The Sociological Quarterly 41(4): 593-614.


2013.  “Power and Transgression in the Global Media Age: The Strange Case of Twitter in China."Orders and Borders: Communication and Power in the Global Era, edited by Marwan Kraidy. Routledge, pp.166-183.    

2013. "Social Dynamics in the Evolution of China's Internet Content Control Regime." In Monroe Price, Stefaan Verhulst, and Libby Morgan eds., Routledge Handbook of Media Law. London: Routledge, pp.285-302.

2011.  “The Internet and Civil Society.” In Handbook of Contemporary China, edited by William Tay and Alvin So. Singapore: World Scientific, pp.437-453.

2011.   "The Routinization of Liminality: The Persistence of Activism among China's Red Guard Generation." In East Asian Social Movements: Power, Protest, and Change in a Dynamic Region, edited by Jeffrey Broadbent and Vicky Brockman (Springer, 2011): 437-455.

2011.  “Press Freedom and Transnational Online Activism in China.” In Measures of Press Freedom and Media Contributions to Development: Evaluating the Evaluators, edited by Monroe Price and Susan Abbott. Peter Lang, pp.111-127.

2010. “Alternative Genres, New Media, and Counter Memories of the Chines Cultural Revolution.” In Northeast Asia's Difficult Past: Essays in Collective Memory, edited by Mikyoung Kim and Barry Schwartz (Palgrave McMillan Memory Studies), pp.129-146.

2010. "Chinese Internet Literature and the Changing Field of Print Culture." In From Woodblocks to the Internet: Chinese Publishing and Print Culture in Transition, circa 1800 to 2008, edited by Cynthia Brokaw and Christopher A. Reed (Leiden and Boston: Brill), pp. 333-352.

2010. "Civic Environmentalism." In Reclaiming Chinese Society: The New Social Activism, edited by You-tien Hsing and Ching Kwan Lee (London: Routledge), pp.119-139.

2009. "Historical Imagination in the Study of Chinese Digital Civil Society." In China's Information and Communications Technology  Revolution: Social Changes and State Responses, edited by Xiaoling Zhang and Yongnian Zheng (London: Routledge), pp. 17-33.

2008. "Contention in Chinese Cyberspace." In Popular Protest in China, edited by Kevin O'Brien (Harvard University Press), pp. 126-143.

2007.   "'A Portrait of Martyr Jiang Qing': The Chinese Cultural Revolution on the Internet." In Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China, edited by Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang (Woodrow Wilson Press and Stanford University Press), pp. 287-316.

2007.  “Introduction: Memory, Power, and Culture.” (with Ching Kwan Lee). In Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China, edited by Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang  (Woodrow Wilson Press and Stanford University Press), pp. 1-20.

2006. "The Internet and Emerging Civil Society in China." In Political Reform in China: The Rule of Law versus Democratization , edited by Suisheng Zhao (M. E. Sharpe), pp. 196-214. [A revised and updated version of "The Internet and Civil Society in China: A Preliminary Assessment." Journal of Contemporary China. Volume 12, Number 36 (August 2003), pp.453 - 475.]

2006. “The Internet and Civil Society in China: Co-evolutionary Dynamics and Digital Formations,” in China’s Deep Reform: Domestic Politics in Transition, edited by Lowell Dittmer and Guoli Liu (Rowman & Littlefield), pp. 303-318. [A revised and updated version of "The co-evolution of the Internet and Civil Society in China." Asian Survey. Vol. 43, No. 3 (May/June 2003), pp.405-422. Chinese translation published in Falv yu shehui kexue (Law and Social Sciences), Vol.6 (2010): 1-19.]

2005.  “Emotional Events and the Transformation of Collective Action: The Chinese Student Movement.”  In Emotions and Social Movements, edited by Helena Flam and Debra King (London: Routledge), pp. 79-98.


2011.  “Social Empowerment and Disempowerment.” Symposium on “China’s Other Revolution. Boston Review’s “New Democracy Forum.”

2011.   “Moving Past Manifestos.” Room for Debate: “Ai Weiwei and the Artist’s Role in China” The New York Times, April 11.

2011.  “China’s Gradual Revolution.” Op-ed for The New York Times, March 13.

2010.   “Liang Congjie, Public Intellectuals, and Civil Society in China.” The China Beat (academic blog), December 1.

2010. “The Death of Innocents.” Room for Debate: China’s School Killings and Social Despair, New York Times, May 13.

2010. "China could use its tussle with Google to step up Internet reform," YaleGlobal, April 7. [Reprinted in South China Morning Post, The Straits Times, and Jarkata Globe]

2010. "Why Google Should Not Quit." Real Time (blog), Social Science Research Council, January 20.

2009.    “1919 • 1989 • 2009.” Introduction to “Results: 0” (an Exhibition of photographs of the Chinese student movement in 1989). Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York.

2009. "The Curious Case of Jia Junpeng, or The Power of Symbolic Appropriation in Chinese Cyberspace." October 20. The China Beat (blog).

2009. “Finding Trust Online: Tigergate to the Sichuan Earthquakes.” In China in 2008: A Great of Great Significance. Edited by Kate Merkel-Hess, Kenneth Pomeranz and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (Roman & Littlefield, 2009), pp. 233-234.

2009. "Coping With Digital Revolution: China Offers Green Dam, Iran Faces Neda," YaleGlobal Online, June 23.

2008.  “A Civil Society Emerges from the Earthquake Rubble.” YaleGlobal Online Magazine, June 5. <>

2004.  Global Environmentalism Hits China.”  YaleGlobal Online Magazine. February 4. <> Reprinted in International Herald Tribune, Feb. 11, 2003. <>


2012. "Lightness, Wildness, and Ambivalence: China and New Media Studies." New Media & Society 14(1):170-179. [Review essay]

2011.  Capsule review of Jean-Philippe Béja, ed., The Impact of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. London: Routledge, 2010. Foreign Affairs, September/October.

2010. “Author’s Response: The Growing Power of the Internet in China.” Book Review Roundtable: Guobin Yang: The Power of the Internet in China. Asia Policy, No. 10, pp.182-188.

2010.  Review of Andrew Walder, Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement (Harvard University Press, 2010). Pacific Affairs 83(4): 763-764.

2010.  Review of The Rise of Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China's New Class by Joel Andreas (Stanford University Press, 2009). In Contemporary Sociology 39(2): 140-141.

2010.  Review of Associations and the Chinese State: Contested Spaces, edited by Jonathan Unger (M.E. Sharpe, 2009). The China Quarterly Issue 200:1097-99.

2009.  Review of The Internet and Rural Development in China, by Jinqiu Zhao (Peter Lang AG, 2008). Contemporary Sociology 38(5).

2008.   Review of International Comparisons on Environmental Politics, by Qingzhi Huan (Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2007). Environmental Politics 17(5): 866-867.

2007.  Review of Rightful Resistance in Rural China, by Kevin O’Brien and Lianjiang Li (Cambridge University Press, 2006). In Mobilization: An International Journal. 12(4): 100-101.

2006. Review of Yangtian changxiao: yige danjian shiyi nian de hongweibing yuzhong yutianlu (Outcry from a Red Guard Imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution), by Lu Li'an and edited by Wang Shaoguang.. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2005. In The China Review Vol. 6, No. 2 (Fall), pp. 180-183.

2005.   “‘Accounts’ of Information Technologies and an Information Society.”  European Journal of Cultural Studies 8(4):505-512. [Review essay on Digital Democracy by Kenneth Hacker and Jan van Dijk, Critique of Information by Scott Lash, and The Information Society by Christopher May.]

2003.  Review of Catherine Keyser, Professionalizing Research in Post-Mao China: The System Reform Institute and Policy Making.  Armonk, M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2002. Political Science Quarterly. 118(4): 719-721.

2002. "Civil Society in China: A Dynamic Field of Study." China Review International Vol.9, No.1 (Spring), pp. 1-16. [Review essay]

2002.  Review of Wenfang Tang and William Parish, Chinese Urban Life Under Reform: The Changing Social Contract. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).  Contemporary Sociology 31(2): 152-154.

2002.  Review of Dingxin Zhao, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement. (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2001). Contemporary Sociology 31(3): 312-314.

1998.  Review of Elizabeth J. Perry and Li Xun, Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution (Westview Press, 1997). China Review International 5 (2): 507-512.

1997.   Review of Zhengyuan Fu, China's Legalists: The Earliest Totalitarians and Their Art of Ruling.  (M. E. Sharpe, 1996).  China Review International 4 (2): 389-396.

1997.  Review of James Hevia, Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the McCartney Embassy of 1793 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995). Kaifang Shidai (Open Times), No. 5: 120-122. [In Chinese]

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