Society for the Anthropology of Work
General Anthropology Division
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In recent years, “Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship” has been actively promoted in China as a means to achieve economic restructuring and social equity. A new wave of tech entrepreneurship has started, attracting people from diverse social backgrounds to pursue such ideals with the hope of starting up innovative businesses with the financial support of investment capital funds. To better understand the lived experiences of grassroots tech entrepreneurs’ pursuit of angel investment in China, the researcher carried out an ethnographic study based primarily in a state-designated startup space in Beijing over the summers of 2017 and 2018. Findings suggest a common practice among angel investors to “examine the entrepreneur as a person” ( kan re n ) over face-to-face interactions to inform their investment decision making, which could often, as a consequence, make or break fund-seeking attempts of grassroots entrepreneurs. Adopting the theoretical framework of R. W. Greene (2004, 2007)’s notion of rhetorical agency and communicative labor, this study contributes to theoretical discussions on how social inequalities and class divisions may be sustained and recreated through communication and dynamics of digital rhetoric in an ever-capitalizing China.