The Spatial Production of Wanghong: Political Economy, Labour Mobility and the “Unlikely” Creativity

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    This chapter introduces the specificities of the Chinese wanghong economy and its implications for the existing spatial relationships in Chinese contemporary society. Though not immune to the state’s cultural censorship and regulation, the wanghong industry fits into the Party State’s agenda of restructuring the economy and boosting employment. The well-established ICT infrastructure propels the booming platform economy, which together facilitate a maximum incorporation of individual creativities and labour from disparate social sites into the network of wanghong economy. While not necessarily promising a secure career and life for creators, this mixed reality of empowering and precarity contributes to a kaleidoscopic landscape of wanghong culture. The vernacular aesthetics underscore the “unlikeliness” of wanghong culture, which may often be deemed as “inadequate”, “unfulfilling” and even “unacceptable” in the context of the Chinese legacy screen culture and the offline social locations. The network effects of wanghong economy thus transform the local space of places into “the space of flows”, in which local lives, identities and values all become potential sources for creativity and monetization of the wanghong production. The unlikely aesthetics of wanghong culture become desirable to creators and their online communities, serving as an imagined alternative to the tedious/normative everyday work and identities in the offline places.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTopologies of Digital Work
    Subtitle of host publicationHow digitisation and virtualisation shape working spaces and places
    EditorsMascha Will-Zocholl, Caroline Roth-Ebner
    PublisherPalgrave MacMillan
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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