WeChat as Everyday Tactics: Shanzhai-ed Didi Making Place in Pre-Uber Vancouver

All Abstracts > WeChat as Everyday Tactics: Shanzhai-ed Didi Making Place in Pre-Uber Vancouver

WeChat as Everyday Tactics: Shanzhai-ed Didi Making Place in Pre-Uber Vancouver

Author | Affiliation:
Yijia Zhang | University of British Columbia

Presenting at:
3C | WeChat and Chinese diaspora


Abstract:

This article examines the placemaking experience of Chinese immigrants and international students in Vancouver, Canada. The Chinese diaspora appropriates the all-in-one app WeChat and transforms it into the local gateway platform that serves many aspects of everyday life for the Chinese community. In this case study, I focus on the WeChat-based ride-hailing, which is aptly named by my participant as “Shanzhai-ed Didi”. This article draws on my fieldwork from July to December 2018, in which I followed 2 of the most popular WeChat-based ride-hailing platforms and interviewed a total of 12 drivers and passengers. Such ride-hailing WeChat Public Accounts (WPAs) had emerged and gained popularity before Uber and similar services were licensed to operate. Building on de Certeau’s (1984) art of “making do” (p.30), I examine how local Chinese immigrants and international students use WeChat as an everyday tactic, emulate in Vancouver the digitally-connected Chinese lifestyle, and make the city a home away from home. In addition, I discuss how such place-making practices complicate integration in the context of digital connectivity and multiculturalism.


About the author

Yijia Zhang is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include migration and globalization, social media, platform economy and ethnography. Yijia received her Master’s degree in the School of Communication at the Simon Fraser University. Her thesis examined the creative practices around WeChat-based ride-hailing platforms that are popular among Vancouver’s Chinese communities

Email: yijia.zhang19@gmail.com

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