Roundtable Discussion: Rural China, global capitalism and social media: from production to consumption


 4:00 - 7:30pm
 Room Segalen, 25/F, Admiralty Centre, Tower 2, 18 Harcourt Road, Hong Kong (Admiralty MTR station, exit A)
Jack Linchuan Qiu, Tom McDonald

Organised by

The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC)

in collaboration with

Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong Logo HKU Sociology

and The C-Centre, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Logo C-Centre

20161122 Book 1

With more than 700 million users as of 2016, the growth of internet users has been unprecedented in China. Social media have also been playing an ever more central role in people’s everyday lives. In this dual book launch roundtable discussion: Rural China, global capitalism and social media: from production to consumption, on the one hand we shall get into the heart of the production and labor politics of information and communication technologies in China. In Goodbye iSlave. A Mafinesto for Digital Labor Abolition, Jack Qiu documents and interrogates « how corporations and governments everywhere collude to build systems of domination, exploitation, and alienation ». The presentation of this volume by the author and the discussion will touch upon questions such as: what parallels are there, if any, between the seventeenth century Atlantic triangular slave trade system and today’s “twenty-first-century slavery” or “iSlavery” ? What are the features of Chinese workers’ digitally networked labor activism and their resistance to exploitation and how do they differ from patterns elsewhere in the Global South ? What is specific about this IT-based industrial capitalism and how does it inform the broader transformations of global capitalism ?  In an era of global production of desires and global connectivity, what intellectual and moral challenges do these questions raise in China and beyond?

20161122 Book 2

On the other hand, through an in-depth ethnographic exploration of the uses of social media in a rural town of Shandong province, we will delve into the varied and often contradictory effects the use of social media bear upon the everyday lives of rural dwellers. The presentation of Social Media in Rural China by Tom McDonald and the discussion that will follow will include questions such as : how do the uses of social media by townfolk affect their moral and ethical frameworks and how do they relate to the tensions between traditional moral values and the growth of individualism, and the rise of personal choices and desires ? How do the uses of social media shape townfolk’s understanding of the broader socio-political and economic changes taking place in their lives and how do these uses relate to changes in material consumption? How do social media users in rural China experience government censorship and propaganda and what effects do these have on townfolk digitally-mediated social relations?


16:00 – 17:30

Presentation of Goodbye iSlave. A Mafinesto for Digital Labor Abolition, by Jack Linchuan Qiu (Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Discussion by Jenny Chan (Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Science, Hong Kong Polytechinic University) and Eric Florence (Director of CEFC)

General Discussion (Q&A)

17:30 – 18:00

Coffee Break

18:00 – 19:30

Presentation of Social Media in Rural China by Tom McDonald (Associate professor, Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong)

Discussion by Ka-ming Wu (Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Séverine Arsène (Chief Editor of China Perspectives, CEFC)

General Discussion (Q&A)

Eric Florence chaired the seminar

The seminar was held in English

20161122 Pic 2

20161122 Pic 1

20161122 Pic 3

20161122 Pic 4

* We are sorry for the lost of voice recording of the discussion of Ka-ming Wu and Séverine Arsène to Tom McDonald’s book because of the technical fault.