Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Lecture | China Seminar

"We are new farmers": How do e-commerce streamers perform authenticity in rural China

Wednesday 13 March 2024
LIAS China Seminar
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Huizinga 0.04


Shichang Duan is a Postdoc working in ERC project China White, afflicated with Anthropology Department, Unversity of Amsterdam. His current research investigates the racial knowledge of rural Chinese in global wig supply chain.

His research focus how platform economy unfold in marginalized area, specifically rural China, across multiple sacles. He started his ethnography work in live streaming teams in rural China since 2020 during his PhD project. His dissertation investigates the platformization of supply chain of agricultural products and the social relationship among platform workers in live e-commerce teams. He examine the collective labor process of performing authenticity, the tension between digital influencers and entrepreneurs, and the infrastructural role of media technologies. After obtaining Phd Degree in May, 2023, he started postdoc from September, 2023. During working for ChinaWhite project, Shichang Duan explore the dynamics in the construction of (authentic) whiteness in China’s platform economy. He is interested in the cooperations and frictions between rural Chinese and Western business partners in the production of global wig supply chain on Alibaba.

Shichang Duan has published papers on Chinese journal of Communication, and Sociology of Communications. He was also a research fellow of Utrecht University (2020-2023) and University of Siegen (April,2023-September, 2023).

Photo by Schichang Duan


This research examines the motivation and labor process of e-commerce streamers, so-called “new farmers”, as entrepreneurial subjects, performing authenticity in rural China. To explore how these entrepreneurs brand themselves as authentic new farmers on platforms, the author conducted fieldwork in three live e-commerce teams for one year. Drawing on the collected data, this research elaborates on the exploitative aspect of platform labor by describing the tension between mobilization narratives received by rural residents and the actual exhausting labor experience. The entrepreneurial farmers are mobilized to become authentic new farmers by interrelated discourse from platforms, the advantage of visualization technology, making the marginalized visible, and empowerment for entrepreneurial individuals. However, these myth obscures the physical labor to main infrastructure, gatekeeping process, and necessary capital to construct authenticity online. Nevertheless, these real labor experiences will be curated and partly presented on live streaming, for constructing an authentic new farmer image. The author concludes by addressing the hidden exploitative characteristic of platformization and platform labor, and argue that these marginalized rural subjects, is still underpaid and lack social support in platform economy.

This website uses cookies.  More information.