Platformization of the Unlikely Creative Class: Kuaishou and Chinese Digital Cultural Production

Jian Lin*, Jeroen de Kloet

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
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    This article studies the platformization of cultural production in China through the specific lens of Kuaishou, an algorithm-based video-sharing platform targeting second- and third-tier cities as well as the countryside. It enables the forming of an “unlikely” creative class in contemporary China. Kuaishou’s platform business fits into the Party State’s socio-economic agenda of “Internet+” and “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” and is also folded into the state’s demand for cultural censorship and social stability. As we will show, this state-commerce relationship largely shapes Kuaishou’s interface and its affordances as encoded in its algorithm. Nevertheless, Kuaishou enables the diverse, often marginalized, Chinese living outside the urban centers of the country to become “unlikely” creative workers, who have become self-employed creative, digital entrepreneurs. For these “grassroots individuals,” creativity, life, and individuality are constantly mobilized and calculated according to the workings of the platform. This grassroots entrepreneurship, in tandem with the institutional regulation and censorship of the Internet, contributes to the transformation of Chinese economy and the production of social stability and a digital culture permeated with contingency and negotiation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages13
    JournalSocial Media + Society
    Issue number4
    Early online date1-Nov-2019
    Publication statusPublished - 21-Nov-2019


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