Micro-entrepreneurship, new media technologies, and the reproduction and reconfiguration of gender in rural China
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© 2014, © 2014 The Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. This article explores the connections between micro-entrepreneurship, new media technologies, and gender in rural China. Based on fieldwork among diverse individuals engaged in agricultural and non-agricultural micro-entrepreneurship, I examine how uses of technology in economic production become the site for the reproduction and/or reconfiguration of gender hierarchies. Grounding my analysis in feminist and critical theories of technology, I investigate the gendered uses and discourses of new media technologies that emerge from three types of entrepreneurial spaces: physical places where micro-entrepreneurship is based on new media technologies, such as internet cafés and mobile phone shops; virtual realms where new media technologies potentially facilitate entrepreneurship, including text messaging and various websites; and virtual spaces where informal learning and sharing take place via mediated networks formed around common occupations. I argue that in the context of entrepreneurship, even among women and men who are young and have migration experience, deeply entrenched gendered power differentials produce unequal access to capital and social networks, and hence uses and understandings of technology. Although engagement with technology has opened up new spaces for economic enhancement and the rearrangement of conventional gender norms, such engagement does not overcome – indeed, in many cases reproduces – gendered power relations.
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