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Title: Chinese rural migrants and the appropriation of social media
Author: Wang, X.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Based on 15 months of ethnographic field work in a small factory in southeast China, this thesis is about a new population and a new media. Described as the biggest migration in human history, an estimated 250 million Chinese peasants have left their villages to live and work in urban areas. The vast Chinese rural migrant population that did not exist three decades ago is taking on its new form alongside the rise of social media in contemporary China which itself did not exist two decades ago. The ethnography included intense interaction with a broad range of factory workers both online and offline. One of the most significant findings is the way in which this population challenges the full range of preconceptions commonly held about Chinese people - their relationship with family, with education, with politics, with religion and with 'home'. The thesis argues that a population of 250 million cannot be regarded as a mere exception and should assume a central role in our understanding of contemporary Chinese people. As well as social media providing a route for the ethnography of this population, the study is equally addressing claims and generalisations made about social media itself, and its use and consequences. In many respects it was online sociality that had become central to these people's lives, rather than the direct relationship to fellow workers. So the overarching argument of this thesis is alongside the rural to urban migration, there is a second migration taking place: a movement from offline to online. The 'dual migration' is not simply a convenient analogy but represents the convergence of two phenomena as profound and consequential as each other, where the online world now provides a home for the migrant workers who feel otherwise 'homeless'.
Supervisor: Miller, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available