Research on the Discourse Power of Participatory Communication of Rural Left-behind Women in Xingan County: Based on Scale-free Network


As the structure of urban-rural binary opposition that existed for a long time in Chinese society is gradually broken, the rural labor flows into all walks of life in the city on a large scale. When male farmers move to cities, their family members are stranded in the countryside, causing the unique left-behind group: left-behind children, left-behind women and left-behind elderly. Due to the lack of adequate labor capacity of the elderly and children, left-behind women undertake most of the tasks of raising and caring for their families, whose existence are related to the operation, development and stability of the countryside. However, after investigating a large number of literatures and the social reality, we found that few studies in the field of communication mention the situation of rural left-behind women. From this point of view, left-behind women are the group with the heaviest burden among the three groups, but receive the least social attention and care.

This research of rural left-behind women uses participatory communication as the starting point and conducts research from the perspective of the discourse power. Participatory communication belongs to the process of participating in social relationship interaction. The strength of its social relationship network greatly affects the individual's discourse expression. Therefore, this study adopts the research methods of social network analysis and in-depth interview, and selects scale-free characteristics of the complex network to study the discourse power of rural left-behind women. We selected Xingan County, Jiangxi Province as the research site, and conducted stratified sampling and snowball sampling on rural left-behind women, finally determined the research sample and carried out research. Through investigations in the rural areas of Xingan County, we found that the left-behind women’s discourse power was significantly affected by the relationship distance between villagers and the time their husbands were away. The closer the left-behind women were to other villagers, the greater their discourse influence would be, so that they could better safeguard their rights and interests.

Based on the results of the research, we propose a discourse power measurement model in participatory communication. Starting from the centrality and influence in complex networks, this model measures the intensity of moderate centrality, intermediate centrality and proximity centrality in social networks, and combines the psychological status and public decision-making results of the research objects to get the degree of influence on their discourse power and optimize the network finally. This model can improve the social network of rural left-behind women's society and selectively enhance the discourse power of rural left-behind women, which is of great practical significance to reduce the burden of rural left-behind women and alleviate the hidden concerns of rural society.