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China's E-Commerce: Empowering Rural Women?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2019

Haiqing Yu
Affiliation:
School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. Email: haiqing.yu@rmit.edu.au.
Lili Cui*
Affiliation:
Department of E-commerce, School of Information Management and Engineering, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics.
*
Email: cui.lili@mail.shufe.edu.cn (corresponding author).

Abstract

This article employs a feminist political economy perspective to explore the connection between e-commerce, entrepreneurship and gender in rural China. It discusses gendered engagement with, and discourses of, the new digital economy represented by Taobao villages, and asks: how has the success of rural e-commerce impacted the evolving gender mandate and hierarchy in a competitive market economy in rural China? Has rural women's participation in digital economic activities changed their gendered roles and the patriarchal structure in their family and village? This article argues that women's socioeconomic enablement does not necessarily translate into cultural and political empowerment. The enabling potential of female entrepreneurship is tempered by traditional constraints on women and digital capitalist exploitation of their cheap, flexible and docile labour.

摘要

本文采用女性主义政治经济学的视角,分析了中国农村社会中电子商务、企业家精神和性别之间的联系。我们探讨了以淘宝村为代表的新兴数字经济中,女性的参与程度和话语权。文章围绕以下问题展开讨论:(1)农村电子商务的发展和成功如何影响女性在市场经济中的作用和地位?(2)农村妇女积极参与数字经济活动,这能否改变她们在家庭中的地位,并撼动中国农村的父权制结构?本文认为,妇女在社会经济上的赋能并不必然会带来文化与政治上的赋权;通过农村电子商务而产生出来的女性企业家精神,受制于传统结构中对女性的限制,女性同时沦为受数字资本剥削的廉价、灵活且温顺的劳动力。

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2019 

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