Living on e-commerce: the politics and ethics of e-trading in a Chinese city

ANU China Seminar Series


Qian Linliang


Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU


Tuesday, 6 March, 2018 - 16:00 to 17:30

Qian Linliang

The expansion of the e-commerce economy has given individual Chinese e-traders new opportunities to generate wealth and cultural capital, and to achieve upward social mobility. But it has also created a precarious condition in which they have had to discipline themselves and adapt to a changing environment so as to ensure economic security. This paper looks at the making of a “neoliberal” subjectivity among Chinese e-traders, against the background of rising information capitalism in the country. It draws on the results of over a year’s fieldwork in the city of Yiwu, an emergent e-commercial hub in Southeast China. It investigates how the e-traders of Yiwu situate themselves in divides between the urban and the rural, or between online and offline identities. It explores their moral agency in negotiating and contesting ethics in business encounters, and their enterprising and self-disciplined measures in facing economic and social uncertainties. In so doing, it illustrates how the ongoing formation of the digital regime of accumulation speaks to the culturally specific process of subjectivization in China.

About the speaker

Qian Linliang is a PhD candidate at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. His current research interests include social studies of information technology and new media, economic anthropology, and the anthropology of morality. He has published articles in several international journals, including China Information, Dialectical Anthropology, and Sexuality & Disability. His PhD project investigates the impact of e-commerce on people’s everyday life in a Chinese city.

After the seminar

All attendees are invited to join us in the CIW Tea House for informal discussion with the guest speaker after the seminar. With the consent of speakers, seminars are recorded and made publicly available through the Seminar Series’ website to build an archive of research on the Sinophone world.
The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.




Australian Centre on China in the World
02 6125 9060

Venue map

Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team