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GUO Yuhua, CHEN Peng*, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Information Technology as Social Recognition and Cultural Expression: Case Studies of Information Technology Adoption among Peasant in Contemporary China

Abstract

中文摘要:中国社会转型带来了农村社会结构的急剧变迁,并呈现为传统农村、工村、商村和城中村四种村庄类型。以固定电话、手机、电视和电脑等为代表的信息技术产品作为一种现代性要素扩散和渗透到各类村庄之中,并在农民的使用实践过程中呈现出复杂的分化态势:信息鸿沟不仅存在于“城乡之间”,而且存在于“乡乡之间”,也存在于不同身份地位的村民之间。由此,农民对信息技术的使用不仅构成了农村社会分化的重要表征,而且成为加剧农村社会进一步分化的重要因素。与此同时,我们发现农民在购买和使用信息技术产品时并不仅仅是一个被动的消费者,他们同时也在主动地利用信息技术并体现出鲜明的主体性:一方面,农民通过创造性地、充分地寻求信息技术的最佳利用效果以实现自身的利益追逐和表达;另一面,农民通过信息技术对其生存状况和情感诉求进行主动的文化表达。于此,作为主体的农民在消费和使用信息技术产品的过程中经典性地呈现出各种农民式的策略、技巧、创意和智慧,他们的行动实践也深化和拓展了信息技术产品的物理功能和社会文化内涵。

关键词:信息鸿沟  断裂社会  社会识别  文化表达  社会转型

During its structural transformation, rural China witnesses the emergence of four types of villages: traditional villages, industrialized villages, commercial villages, and villages in city.  Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), including fixed phone, cell phone, TV set, and personal computer, penetrate Chinese villages and differentiate their villagers: digital divide in China exists not only between urban-rural areas, but also among villages and villagers.  While peasants’ ICTs adoption represents the growing peasant differentiation, it also accelerates the further growth of peasant differentiation.  Meanwhile, when purchasing and using ICTs products and services, peasants are not passive consumers, but active social actors with conspicuous subjectivity: on the one hand, peasants develop strikingly creative strategies to maximize their return from purchased ICTs services; on the other they also utilize ICTs products to translate their experiences and desires into crude but vibrant cultural expression.  ICTs adoption in the four types of Chinese villages classically demonstrates peasants’ strategy, tactics, creativity, and wisdom. Peasants’ ICTs practice also expands ICTs’ technological functions as well as social and cultural significance.

Keywords:   Digital Divide, Cleavage Society, Social Recognition, Cultural Expression, Social Transformation


* The authors of the paper are Yuhua Guo, Peng Chen and Research Team on “Peasant and Information Technology,” Dept. of Sociology, Tsinghua University

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