"Airpocalypse" and the China smog crisis: Examining online and offline civic engagement motives, attention, and actions

Yashu Chen, Pauline Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Air pollution is a leading concern in China, linked to one in three deaths. Given the rising prominence and importance of environmental protection in China and worldwide, this study investigates civic engagement related to air pollution by examining the associations between social network site (SNS) use, attention to the China smog crisis-related content on mobile Internet platforms, and motives for SNSs use. Results revealed that attention to the China smog crisis-related content on mobile Internet platforms was positively associated with participation in the China smog crisis, both on SNSs and on the ground. The combination of having a high need for recognition along with a low need for entertainment best predicted civic engagement, both on SNSs and offline. Furthermore, results indicated the importance of differentiating geography in the context of Chinese communication practices, as smogginess of location moderated the relationship between offline civic engagement and attitude toward SNS use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-714
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019



  • China smog crisis
  • Civic engagement
  • Media exposure
  • Mobile Internet
  • Social network sites
  • Uses and gratifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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