Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Semati, Mehdi

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication


This thesis addresses the politicization trend in the western scholarship of the Internet in China, and problematizes its dominant discourse, the Internet Freedom/Democracy discourse. To this end, it argues that the Internet Freedom discourse, which contributes to the Great Firewall myth, is inaccurate and inadequate to explain the complexity of the Internet in China. Furthermore, it argues that this discourse has not only been historically driven by economic and political interests of the West, but it also has served as a rhetoric to justify the continuation of the U.S. hegemony over the Internet in face of China’s economic rise. To support the argument, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is deployed to do the following: first, to examine major texts that are associated with the dominant discourse; second, to historicize the three major components of the discourse, which are the free flow of information, free expression, human rights; third, to examine the relationship between the dominant discourse and the post-colonial development discourse. The thesis argues that while the development discourse of the post-WW II focused on economic growth, Internet freedom discourse resorts to the values and ideology in a new context where the U.S. economy is perceived to be in decline. Both the dominant discourse and the development discourse are associated with western ideologies that legitimize intervention and domination over the rest of the world. Finally, the geo-politics of the Internet will be discussed to complete the analysis of power and hegemony.


73 pages




Northern Illinois University

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