Creative Intervention and Media in the Cultural Public Sphere

Shiau Ching Wong

Independent Researcher, Singapore

Media research has traditionally focused on the public sphere formed by online deliberation and discussion of topics amongst citizens. Meanwhile, citizenship studies largely focus on the political form of civic engagement than the cultural dimension of citizenship. Jim McGuigan’s (2005) concept of the cultural public sphere, has questioned the public sphere as the sole standard measuring dialogic democracy. The sphere refers to the articulation of politics, public and personal, as a contested terrain through affective (aesthetic and emotional) modes of communication. Three political stances to the sphere are identified and evaluated: uncritical populism, radical subversion, and critical intervention. To expand his concept, this paper considers creative intervention as a new stance in the cultural public sphere. It holds that creative intervention is a potentially popular stance, not only dealing with propaganda and widespread dissent but also underlining the values of imagination, provocation, happiness, and agency of a public sphere. Discussion of this new stance will be based on the affective modes of communication of civic supporters in the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong. Particular attention is paid to a group of creative citizens who have made use of digital media to pursue and popularize their cause.


Shiau Ching Wong received her PhD from The University of Melbourne, and her thesis investigates activists’ tactical engagement with social and mainstream media, and how mutual interactions influence the mediated opportunities of protest campaigns in Hong Kong and Taiwan. She also researches on community heritage and civic technology movements in Asian societies.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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