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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



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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