China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
During the decade, digital technology has changed ordinary people’s working life experiences in contemporary China. Based on the internet, the rule of market has penetrated the electronic, new media and cultural industries, strengthening the commodification of labor, education and feeling in China. According to Karl Polanyi’s theory, the commodification leads to the disintegration of society as well as the fierce social movement to protect society. However, with the help of digital technology, the increasing commodification process reinforces the working people’s precariousness but encounters limited resistance because of the strong intervention of state.
This panel seeks to understand working people’s precarious experiences as the result of commodification in China and the impact of state and digital technology. Xia’s paper discovers that the interns in the new media industries face the poor working conditions and precarious life, resulting from the collusion between universities and internet companies in the commodification of labor and education. Jia’s paper demonstrates that the cultural industries exploit the unpaid labor by manufacturing their consent based on the commodification of intimacy. By exploring the relationship between gender narratives and resistance, Su’s paper shows that student workers mobilize their resistance against their precariousness. Yet, Liu’s study of local governance argues that the state develop the new strategy to strengthen the commodification and restrict the social resistance.
Combing disciplines of sociology, communication and political science, the four papers reveal that dynamics amongst technology, inequality and the role of state is fundamental to understand the relationship between commodification and precariousness in China.