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Sociology Research


Ruichen is a PhD student from the Department of Sociology supervised by Dr. Ella McPherson. She is currently working on the discursive practices of political humour on the Chinese internet. Moving beyond a dualist framework understanding digital humour as control and resistance in China, her research explores the diversity and fluidity of humour related to political ideology, propaganda, and official narratives, analysing its alternative social functions of bridging communication and negotiating the hegemonic relationship between public and the state in authoritarian China.

Ruichen did her bachelor and master degrees in sociology at Peking University, China. Her undergraduate dissertation works on the influence of information communication technologies on government organisations. Her master thesis studies the daily practices of petitioners and government agents and suggests a double justification mechanism to explain the petitioning dilemma in China. She now turns to resistance in a digital world and studies how it merges with culture and applies creative discursive strategies to communicate, to negotiate, to entertain, rather than to demonstrate, to resist, to subvert.

Research Interests

Ruichen is interested in language and power in a digital age, with special focus on power struggles over meanings, which involve but are not limited to: gender, cultural identity, ideology, political participation, social contention, knowledge structure, collective memory, etc.


Soc 3: Modern Societies II: Global Social Problems and Dynamics of Resistance

Soc 7: Media, Culture and Society

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Grants and Projects

Zhang, R. Full scholarship from China Scholarship Council

PhD Supervisor

Media Articles

Research Groups & Affiliations


China Scholarship Council PhD Scholarship, 2017 – present.

Job Title:
PhD candidate, Murray Edwards College
Contact Information: