Charitable fundraising, which often goes viral, has been flourishing on Wechat, the most popular social media site in China. It has given rise to a variety of forms of resistance. Silence among them is particularly evident. This study was conducted on three focus groups to unveil the hidden voices in the silent college students in an online charitable fundraising. Findings show that these voices demonstrate participants’ reclaiming of authorship of private space on Moments, their endeavour to avoid creating stress in vulnerable others, and their questioning of the configuration of responsibility. These voices show negotiation with or resistance against the pervasive guanxi (a synonym for English "relationship") - oriented moral discourse and indicate the emergence of some new or distinct “ethical minds.” We believe these findings suggest that pertinent stakeholders should critically examine the potential negative consequences brought to individuals by online charity, such as intruding into their private online space and exerting coercive pressure on their decision-making.


Wechat, Guanxi, Silence, Charitable Fundraising, Resistance, Focus Groups

Author Bio(s)

Xun Lin is currently a senior lecturer in Zhaoqing University. Her main research interest is civic engagement in China, and an interest in questions of power and knowledge.

Dr. Hua Huang, the corresponding author, is currently associate professor in Zhaoqing University. His research interests include moral psychology and civic education. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: hh_sky@126.com.


The authors wish to thank our two anonymous reviewers, and Ronald Chenail and Sheryl Chatfield for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This work is supported by the Key Project of the Ministry of Education of China, the project is entitled “Social Media and Adolescents’ Moral Development” [Grant Number DEA140269].

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