Media and Collective Memory An Exploration and Analysis of the Social Functions of Tweeter in the Prevention and Control of “Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia” in Chinese Rural Areas


At the beginning of 2020, “Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia” swept China. The whole country devotes itself into the prevention and control of this disease. In such situation, a great many of common people’s perception of the disease and the trust in the prevention and control do not come from cold terminology but from the actions taken in Chinese rural areas- “Tweeter”- a village media reappearing after a long period of time. As a traditional information media, village tweeter once was a kind of standard facility in Chinese rural areas in the last century. However, as time passes, broadcast fades out of view gradually. In the battle with the disease, in rural areas, early warning, which is the main function of the village tweeter, lets villagers receive the information of the disease quickly. This not only enables people to make full preparation for epidemic prevention but also reduces the loss in the disaster. Meanwhile, “tweeter-based broadcast” reflects the features of acquaintance society, and reached the most effective governance with the most straightforward way with local discourse. In the epidemic situation, populace are mired in a “smelter”, who are coerced by the large amount of information. Based on network technique, vivid and interesting publicity from village tweeters is broadcast on short-video platforms. For people who do not live in rural areas, such governance pattern is novel. However, meanwhile, they know and have a better understanding of Chinese rural areas. Moreover, village tweeter also refreshes people’s collective memory.

Collective memory is a social behavior. People get collective memories, communicate these memories with other individuals or groups, and gain recognition in society. The establishment of collective memory not only plays a significant role in the maintaining of the legality of power and the order of governance, but also is a principal force of establishing social identity. In contemporary society, media plays the key role in the preservation and communication of collective memory. According to the explanation of “social function” theory, media has several functions like environment detection, society coordination, cultural inheritance and status determination. This is similar to the roles that collective memory plays in social construction. In the network-based and digital environment, there is a great change in the communication means, approach and influence of collective memory. How to combine the relationship between nostalgia brought by traditional media and collective memory and new techniques, how to reconstruct collective memory by network-based sharing and communication and then influence social change should be paid attention to, further explored and analyzed.

Based on the fieldwork and case analysis, this paper reviews the history of the development of village tweeter, analyzes its irreplaceability and new features in the prevention and control of the disease in the new period, discusses with the arrival of crisis how village communication refreshes and reconstructs people’s collective memory and realize strong social functions in organization, execution and cohesion by the combination of the reality and the network, traditional method and science and technology.