Working-class Network Society

Working-class Network Society

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The idea of the qdigital divide, q the great social division between information haves and have-nots, has dominated policy debates and scholarly analysis since the 1990s. In Working-Class Network Society, Jack Linchuan Qiu describes a more complex social and technological reality in a newly mobile, urbanizing China. Qiu argues that as inexpensive Internet and mobile phone services become available and are closely integrated with the everyday work and life of low-income communities, they provide a critical seedbed for the emergence of a new working class of qnetwork laborq crucial to China's economic boom. Between the haves and have-nots, writes Qiu, are the information qhave-lessq: migrants, laid-off workers, micro-entrepreneurs, retirees, youth, and others, increasingly connected by cybercafAcs, prepaid service, and used mobile phones. A process of class formation has begun that has important implications for working-class network society in China and beyond. Qiu brings class back into the scholarly discussion, not as a secondary factor but as an essential dimension in our understanding of communication technology as it is shaped in the vast, industrializing society of China. Basing his analysis on his more than five years of empirical research conducted in twenty cities, Qiu examines technology and class, networked connectivity and public policy, in the context of massive urban reforms that affect the new working class disproportionately. The transformation of Chinese society, writes Qiu, is emblematic of the new technosocial reality emerging in much of the Global South.This, however, does not deny the centrality of prepaid services to have-less customers, who often have no other choice for service. ... more than three months , a man in her neighborhood would come every week and buy at least a dozen 100 yuan mobile phone cards from her. ... unlike the Internet or mobile phone, the service does not challenge the plain old telephone and the market has been shrinking.

Title:Working-class Network Society
Author:Jack Linchuan Qiu
Publisher:MIT Press - 2009


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