The social-technical imaginaries of a non-profit platform initiative: platformization of environmental monitoring in China

All Abstracts > The social-technical imaginaries of a non-profit platform initiative: platformization of environmental monitoring in China 

The social-technical imaginaries of a non-profit platform initiative: platformization of environmental monitoring in China 

Author | Affiliation:
Yu Sun | Zhejiang University

Presenting at:
Panel 2C | China’s techno-social realities and futures


Abstract:

The fast and penetrating development of digital infrastructures has been accelerating “the platformization of Chinese society” (de Kloet et al., 2019). Existing studies about datafication and its effects in China mostly focus on commercial platforms from the perspectives of digital economy (Chen & Qiu, 2019), digital labor (Sun, 2019) and creative cultural practices (Lin and de Kloet, 2019). Although the relevant scholarship has placed the platform studies in China’s socio-cultural context, there is still a lack of study about platform innovations in the public realm that embodies alternative social imaginaries of technology development, promoting public values and the common good. Constrained within the global corporate ecosystem, few studies have paid enough attention to non-profit platforms and their potentials to reinvigorate public ideals and reform governance of platforms. Therefore, this paper studies a case of non-profit environmental platform initiative by an environmental nongovernmental organization (ENGO), the goal of which is to facilitate environmental monitoring and public participation. As China’s platformization takes a route different from Western countries (Wang & Lobato, 2019), it is particularly interesting to study how government, market and civil society actors negotiate rules and values shaping the affordances of a platform in the authoritarian context of China. Tracing both the technological and the social imaginaries in building and using the environmental data platform, I discuss how the technical and social imaginations of the society are merged in the work of reimagining a governing structure that lives up to public values in datafied conditions. Based on this, I finally explore the possibilities of “a value-centric platform society” (Van Dijck et al., 2018) in the environmental realm, opening a public space for citizens to monitor environmental pollutions and act upon their civic agency in China.

References

Jeroen de Kloet, Thomas Poell, Zeng Guohua & Chow Yiu Fai (2019) The platformization of Chinese Society: infrastructure, governance, and practice, Chinese Journal of Communication, 12:3, 249-256.

Wang, W. Y., & Lobato, R. (2019). Chinese video streaming services in the context of global platform studies. Chinese Journal of Communication, 1-16.

Julie Yujie Chen & Jack Linchuan Qiu (2019) Digital utility: Datafication, regulation, labor, and DiDi’s platformization of urban transport in China, Chinese Journal of Communication, 12:3, 274-289.

Sun, P. (2019). Your order, their labor: An exploration of algorithms and laboring on food delivery platforms in China. Chinese Journal of Communication, 1-16. Van Dijck, José, Thomas Poell & Martijn De Waal. (2018). The Platform Society: Public Values in a Connective World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lin, J., & de Kloet, J. (2019). Platformization of the unlikely creative class: Kuaishou and Chinese digital cultural production. Social Media and Society, 5(4).


About the author

Yu Sun

Email: celinasunyu@gmail.com

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