Online social construction of Taiwan's rural image: Comparison between Taiwanese self-representation and Chinese perception

Yuting Sun, Chaoyun Liang*, Chi Cheng Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Rurality is well-known to be over-idealised and romanticised as a result of the rural idyll in mass media. As online media evolves, diverse messages and images disseminated potentially reinforce inhabitants' mindset and influence outsider perceptions. In contrast to tourism websites that adopt only a single perspective, this study uses a web-content mining approach to examine Taiwan's rural image. A total of 3034 articles, including 2398 from online media in Taiwan and 636 from China on WeChat, related to rural Taiwan were collected and analysed. The results demonstrated that Taiwanese rurality as represented in local media is based on collective memories of the past and the harsh face of modern rural living mingled with idealised lifestyle concepts. Differences were also observed between the two local media: One presented a richly diverse rurality, whereas the other featured various topical reports about peasant resistance. Rurality from an outsider perspective evoked a picturesque Taiwan countryside instead of inhabitants' real lives. This study concluded that hybrid ideological influences, including urbancentric and market-oriented standpoints, a rural complex based on rural identity, the tension between Chinese and Western cultures, and the cross-strait relationship between Taiwan and China, influenced the construction of Taiwanese rural images.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103968
JournalTourism Management
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb


  • Hybrid imagery
  • Media representation
  • Rural Taiwan
  • Rural image
  • Social construction
  • Web-content mining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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