The “Sent-Down” Internet: New Publications Out!

The Chinese Journal of Communication has recently published a special issue on “The Sent-Down Internet: Using Information and Communication Technologies in Rural China”, which assembles four research articles and one round-table discussion on the diffusion, appropriation and use of new technologies in rural China. All articles are highly critical of the fact that investigating the Chinese Internet, both in terms of methodology and research questions, often happens on urban terms, thus neglecting how people in the countryside create their own meanings and uses regarding new technologies. Topics include NGOs and social media praxis, microentrepreneurship, new media technologies and gender, as well as education and new technologies. In my own contribution on “(Dis)Empowering Technologies: ICT for Education (ICT4E) in China, Past and Present” (for a freely available pre-publication version, see here), I critically discuss the ways in which new technologies are presented as a cure-all for various problems in education – many of which are of a structural/political character and can hardly be solved by simply employing some new, fancy technologies. I show how China has bought into this techno-determinist, or techno-optimist, rationale, at the same time as it looks back upon a history of tackling rural ‘problems’ with technology-oriented solutions.

About Barbara Schulte

Barbara Schulte is Associate Professor at the Institute of Sociology, Lund University
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