Opinion Leadership, Media Use, and Environmental Engagement in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4602-4623
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Communication
Publication statusPublished - 2019



This study examines predictors of environmental engagement among Chinese citizens, paying particular attention to their leadership qualities and their news and social media use. Using a measure of environmental engagement that incorporates both activist (petitions, protests) and consumerist behaviors (boycotting and buycotting), we find that self-perceived opinion leadership, news media use, and Weibo use are all significant predictors of environmental engagement, partially mediated by environmental knowledge. We also explore interactions between opinion leadership and media use, showing differential impacts of news and social media use on environmental knowledge and engagement in China. More specifically, we find that the use of social media benefits people with higher levels of opinion leadership, widening the knowledge and participation gap between them and those who are lower in leadership qualities. In contrast, the use of news media narrows the gap in environmental knowledge and engagement, allowing citizens who do not perceive themselves to be opinion leaders to catch up with those who do. The implications of these findings for promoting environmental engagement in authoritarian contexts are discussed.

Research Area(s)

  • opinion leadership, news media, Weibo, environmental engagement, China

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Full text of this publication does not contain sufficient affiliation information. With consent from the author(s) concerned, the Research Unit(s) information for this record is based on the existing academic department affiliation of the author(s).

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