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Communicating with Power

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Edited By Cherian George

Communication is ubiquitous and information is abundant. Political and economic markets are more open than they have ever been. Yet, there is no escaping the fact that communication continues to flow across fields where power is distributed unevenly. This collection of articles analyzes and responds to asymmetries of power in a diversity of contexts. They are drawn from presentations at the 2016 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in Fukuoka, Japan. The conference theme presented an opening for scholars from various disciplines and academic traditions to engage with the questions of power at different levels of analysis—from micro sites of power like a doctor’s consultation room, to the geopolitical arenas where nations wage war, make peace, and spy on one another. The resulting collection straddles different methodologies and styles, from survey research to essays. Leading scholars and junior researchers have combined to create a volume that reflects the breadth of communication scholarship and its contemporary concerns.

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Chapter Nine: Internet Workers’ Emerging Agency and New Political Dynamics in China (Bingqing Xia)

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CHAPTER NINE

Internet Workers’ Emerging Agency AND New Political Dynamics IN China

BINGQING XIA



Chinese internet giant Alibaba raised USD25 billion in its share flotation on 19th September 2014, making it the largest initial public offering (IPO) in history (BBC News 2014). This is just one indication of the rise of China’s internet industries, an emerging content market accumulating massive economic capital by providing online content. In 2003, the Chinese internet content market bloomed with the emergence of varied content services, such as search engines (Baidu), online gaming (SNDA), instant messaging (Tencent), and online commerce (Alibaba). According to a research report by the Boston Consulting Group, the internet industry economy made up 5.5% of China’s GDP in 2010 (iResearch 2013). In 2012, its annual market value had reached 385.04 billion RMB, an increase of 54.1% from 2011 (Ibid.). Internet-related consumption of information and services is predicted to be one of the biggest drivers of China’s economic growth in the next ten years (Ibid.).

Chinese internet industries are also a field for the emergence of new political dynamics. The Chinese state is involved in the techno-social transformation process in varied ways: it modifies the market by developing intellectual property rights and promoting technical standards; it incubates new enterprises and attracts foreign investments by issuing new policies; and it stimulates the labour market by connecting firms to universities and training students. In the internet industries, the state intervenes with...

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