Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

11.01.2024 BCCN Lecture:"Digital Control and Emotions Under Autocracy"

  • Wann 11.01.2024 von 14:15 bis 15:45
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PosterDanqiGuoGenia Kostka.jpg


We cordially invite you to join lecture #4 of the BCCN Lecture Series "Digital Governance in China“:


Digital Control and Emotions Under Autocracy

By Danqi Guo and Genia Kostka (Freie Universität Berlin)

January 11, 2024, 14:15:15:45 CET


Please register here:



Authoritarian governments are increasingly promoting political control enabled by digital technologies in the name of protecting public security and strengthening social order. The repressive nature of the extensive, oftentimes unchecked digital control has been deliberately hidden away from public discourse and expands in the absence of substantive political accountability. How do ordinary citizens under autocracy react emotionally when facing digital control such as surveillance and censorship implemented by its government? To which extent do triggered emotions relate to changes in citizens’ political attitude? To answer these questions, we employed a survey experiment (N=4507) in China and conducted 50 in-depth interviews from our fieldwork in the country. Our study sheds light on the nuanced political-psychological consequences of digital control under authoritarian rule. It highlights when confronting digital control, negative feelings such as anger, disgust, and helplessness increase, but rather moderately; one’s positive sentiment, however, decreases to a much stronger and greater extent. A worsening of political attitudes, especially asked in hypothetical term, is another significant consequence of knowing about digital control. In general, these effects are stronger in the aspect of digital surveillance, as compared to digital censorship; and also greater when digital control measures are perceived in personalized term rather than in public terms. Overall, our study enriches current understandings of the formation and alteration of political attitudes toward digital control and unveils specific emotional mechanisms that are at play.



Danqi Guo is a PhD student in political science at Freie Universität Berlin. She obtained her BA in political science from the same university and MA in public administration and policy from University of Potsdam. Her research interests lie in the intersection of authoritarianism, digital politics, and political psychology. Her dissertation employs mixed-methods to examine political-psychological motivations and consequences of digital authoritarianism, using China as a key empirical case.


Genia Kostka is Professor of Chinese Politics at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on digital transformation, environmental politics, and political economy with a regional focus on China. Her most recent research project explores how digital technologies are integrated into local decision-making and governance structures in China (ERC Starting Grant 2020-2026).


For more information of the overall lecture series please take a look at our Website.




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