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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

New elite speaks for grass-roots concerns

By Li Wei (Global Times)

10:34, December 14, 2011

With the arrival of the networked era, there are now many convenient ways, such as forum, blogs and microblogs, for ordinary people to express their views on various social issues.

In these ways, they could help single out runaway psychopaths, raise donations or even change legislation, alter judicial rules and topple leaders. It seems to show that, in the process of social development, the grass-roots level of society has begun to show more power. The online vote organized by Time just embodies this trend.

Undeniably, in networked era, ordinary people play a larger role in advancing social development. However, we should be aware that not everyone could voice out their views and have their own spaces, let alone promote social development.

The real situation is that grass-roots complaints are filtered through the acknowledgement and transmission of the elite, and only a small number emerge as voices in their own right. Most cannot make that leap. Even though they can speak out, their voices are submerged by the torrent of information online.

Only such celebrities as Han Han, Yao Chen, Li Chengpeng and Yang Haipeng, who have millions of followers, can draw a lot of attention and exert influence when they speak out. The number of their followers often exceeds that of the readers of a popular newspaper or even the audience of a popular TV program. But all of these celebrities are elites who come from the grass roots. Luckily they are the kind of people who acknowledge or represent the culture they come from.

It's better to say that a culture representing the grass roots has begun to dominate and gain recognition from the elite, rather than that the grass roots itself has become a dominant force in social development. It's too optimistic to hold that the young people from the Arab world overthrew their regimes just by taking to the street. Multiple factors and forces are involved.

My clients whose rights are violated always ask me whether they should post their appeals online. I told them half-jokingly that they'd better made comments on Han Han's blog or send private messages to Yao Chen. They still need to be singled out by the new elite to have their voices heard.

The author is a Beijing-based lawyer. [email protected]

 
 
 
 
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