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“Social” Money and Working-class Subjectivities: Digital Money and Migrant Labour in Shenzhen, China

  • Tom McDonald (a1)

Abstract

Scholars of Chinese society have predominantly regarded the region's money to represent an unusually “social” artefact. The dramatic proliferation of “digital money” services within Chinese social media platforms in the last decade would seem to further confirm the social character of Chinese money. I present a comparison of the diverse views held by migrant factory workers in Shenzhen towards different digital payment platforms which, however, suggests that rather than digital money necessarily being more or less social, different platforms instead extend the possibilities of sociality in varying ways. I argue that acknowledging the production of such novel working-class subjectivities through digital money ought to be central to efforts to assess the potential of these technologies for addressing the social, institutional and economic exclusions faced by Chinese migrant labourers. This in turn can enrich our understanding of the emergence of a new “digital working-class” in China by revealing how such contemporary working-class subjectivities are shifting, contextual and processual in nature.

中国社会的研究者主要将货币视为一种不同寻常的 “社会” 产物,而过去十年来中国社交媒体平台上 “电子货币” 服务的急速增长似乎进一步证实了中国货币的社会性。通过比较深圳的农民工对不同电子支付平台的不同看法,本研究认为,与其说电子货币必然或多或少地具有社会性,不如说不同的电子支付平台以不同的方式扩展了社会性的范围。本研究认为,理解电子货币对这种特殊的工人阶级主体性的生产,对于评估这些技术在解决中国农民工所面临的社会、制度和经济排斥问题上的潜力,应当具有核心地位。通过揭示当代中国工人阶级主体性转变的背景和过程,本研究也会进一步丰富我们对于中国新的 “数字工人阶级” 的出现的理解。

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“Social” Money and Working-class Subjectivities: Digital Money and Migrant Labour in Shenzhen, China

  • Tom McDonald (a1)

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