WP93 Harmony as language policy in China: An internet perspective

Wang, Juffermans & Du
Collection: Key word


This paper provides an ethnographic understanding of harmony as language policy in China. We ground this understanding in a historical analysis of ?harmony? as a distinct traditional Chinese ideal that gradually finds its new expressions through policy in contemporary China. Based on this, we focus particularly on language practices surrounding ?harmony? that are emerging from the Internet, a discursive space and site of policing that is highly diverse while also heavily contested with respect to policing processes, and notably so in the context of the PRC for its stringent measures of censorship and sensitization to language use. From this perspective of the Internet in China, we show empirically that although the state is arguably the strongest stakeholder in implementing the policy of harmony ? or, better, harmonization ? the actual processes of harmonization through policing online develop in detailed, multidirectional and unpredictable rather than abstract, linear or monofocal ways. The outcomes of such processes are paradoxically alternative ideologies of harmony, as well as non-normative uses of language. The general implications to language policy are also discussed.