Piracy Cultures| Underdetermined Globalization: Media Consumption via P2P Networks

Bingchun Meng


So far, research on media and globalization has focused mainly on the global circulation of media products through formal channels. Few works study the distribution and consumption of media content via informal and sometimes illegal routes such as peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. This study analyzes the Chinese online volunteer community of Zimuzu—Internet-based groups that translate foreign media content into Chinese subtitles—to explore the cultural significance of creative media consumption via P2P networks. This article lays out the theoretical framework for understanding power on digital networks to try to capture the power relations at the institutional and individual levels. It examines Zimuzu by looking at (a) the operation of Zimuzu within the Chinese context of media market and state regulation; and (b) how Zimuzu localize Western media content through their subtitle translations. My findings attempt to situate this study in debates on media consumption in a global networked society.

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