Digital China's Informal Circuits: Platforms, Labour and Governance, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Digital China's Informal Circuits

Platforms, Labour and Governance, 1st Edition

By Elaine Jing Zhao


150 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138737105
pub: 2019-02-14
SAVE ~$32.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315173795
pub: 2019-02-11
from $27.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


From open source cultures, piracy, to amateur media and on-demand labour, informal media activities are vibrant in circuits of cultural production, distribution, consumption and labour utilisation in China. They come in different sizes and shapes, involve multiple actors, often with transnational ties and tensions, and challenge polemic views. Why do these informal activities occur, and how do they evolve? What cultural and social consequences do they have? In what ways do they pose challenges to governance and provoke us to rethink the notion? This book engages with diverse forms of the informal and their equally diverse interactions with the formal in the broader context of the rise of digital platforms, the contingent and complicated state–market interactions, and evolving roles of users. The book provides a vivid and original account of how digital platforms navigate formal and informal boundaries at both operational and discursive levels; how enthusiastic fans, aspiring amateurs, 'ordinary' users and necessity-driven labourers become integral to the formal/informal interface; and how state and non-state actors intervene in governing the formal/informal dynamics. In doing so, the book opens up new insights into the ongoing digital transformation in China. 


In Digital China’s Informal Circuits, Elaine Zhao offers an exciting and informative analysis on the often-neglected informal economy, secondary market and alternative forms of production and practices of digital culture in China. From open source cultures and piracy to amateur labor and media, Zhao argues that such informalities—and the dialectics between the informalities and the formalities--have hammered out a more complex and dynamic cultural condition in contemporary China. - Anthony Fung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Beijing Normal University

Digital China’s Informal Circuits: Platforms, Labour and Governance provides readers with a critical perspective on how China’s information and communication technologies are at the leading edge of disruptive innovation. In this readable and comprehensive book Elaine Zhao describes how multiple players and publics strategize to position themselves between formal and the informal economies against the backdrop of a society undergoing massive digital transformation. - Michael Keane, Curtin University Australia

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Repackaged informality and norm-based governance: from shanzhaiji to open source-powered smartphones

Chapter 3 In and out of shadows: negotiating boundaries and legitimacy in mobile app distribution

Chapter 4 Swinging pendulums: from the "Wild West" to content matrix on online video platforms

Chapter 5 Aspirations, precarity and agency: creative labour in the formalising internet literature market

Chapter 6 Between entrenched and smart informalities: ride-hailing platforms and governance challenges

Chapter 7 Conclusion

About the Author

Elaine Jing Zhao is Senior Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

About the Series

Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars in the West and the East, on all aspects of media, culture and social change in Asia. New proposals are welcome, and should be sent in the first instance to the series editor, Stephanie Donald, at [email protected]

Editorial Board:

Gregory N. Evon, University of New South Wales
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
Michael Keane, Curtin University
Tania Lewis, RMIT University, Melbourne
Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong
Kama Maclean, University of New South Wales

Laikwan Pang, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Gary Rawnsley, Aberystwyth University
Ming-yeh Rawnsley, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Jo Tacchi, Loughborough University
Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney
Jing Wang, MIT
Ying Zhu, Hong Kong Baptist University



Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies