Multiple expressions and social consensus in internet public events: Frame analysis in the public opinion of Yuhan case


Nowadays, with the deepening of social transformation, public events that triggered by Internet have emerged one after another- Because of the empowerment of Internet and technology, citizens are able to have more opportunities to express their opinions. While, how to guide the public to social consensus was a question that deserves our attention.

By examining a prominent case of Yu Huan case, who killed a Gray-market lender who tended to abuse his mother in front him, this study applied computer-mediated framing analysis to analyze the public opinion of Yu Huan case. Guided by the frame definition of Entman and the seven discourse rhetorical devices of metaphor, story, tradition, slogan, symbol, analogy and judgments, this paper refined the following subframes under the functional frames of Issue define, Responsibility and Solution:

Issue define: 1. Filial duty; 2. destroying ethical rules; 3. Undutiful official, 4. Officials and bandits’ collusion; 5. excessive sentencing, 6. over-defense; 7. Innocence.

Responsibility: 1. the Gray-market lender; 2. Public security; 3. Local government; 4. Justice institution.

Solution: 1. Considering both emotions and law; 2. Kill the loan lender; 3. Providing security insurance; 4. Retrial; 5. Comprehensive consideration.

Through frame analysis of the online public opinion in Yu Huan case, this study finds that multiple expressions and interactive conversations of public events work together in playing a constructive role in reaching social consensus on public issue in the digital space.

By analyzing a gradually changing process of public opinion from more obvious irrational to rational expressions on the dimensions of ethics, public rights and law, and finally, it has reached a social consensus on the sentence of Yuhuan case. This study indicating that the online public opinion process of Yu Huan has contributed in constructing the digital space in China, and consequently might promote progress of democracy and lawsuit construction in contemporary China.

Specifically, we have drawn three conclusions: firstly, today's Internet public events in China are expressed through a process of multiple expression in public opinion, in which the correctness and fallacy coexist; Secondly, To ensure the management of online public opinion, it is very important for the subject of issue liability to respond social concerns of the public and solve the urgent offline problems; last but not least, Media should be responsible to both public opinion guidance and supervision so as to form social consensus by rational discussions.