Social Coding Platform as Digital Enclave: A Case Study of Protesting “996” on GitHub

Lichen Zhen


This article examines how Chinese netizens are responding to the widespread phenomenon of mandatory overwork amidst the Chinese state’s crackdown on dissenting opinions. Drawing on Squires’ conceptualization of enclaved public spheres, this article theorizes a social coding platform (GitHub) as a digital enclave (for Chinese software developers). A critical discourse analysis was performed on comments retrieved in 2019 from GitHub. GitHub users are found to discursively create a white-collar yet working-class identity to fight for their labor rights and rely heavily on media exposure to expand their influence. This case study extends Squires’ notion of enclaved public spheres to digital space and provides a critical lens to understand the communicative functions and collaborative potential of the social coding platforms.


enclaved public sphere, China, overwork, GitHub, social coding platform

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