Surviving or Thriving? Examining the Impact of Digital Connective Politics in Primary-Level Cadres’ Live-Streaming E-Commerce in China

Yupei Zhao, Wanyan Wu, Zhongxuan Lin


This study aimed to empirically investigate the initiatives led by primary-level cadres to boost local economies in China through live-streaming e-commerce. The study employed semi-structured interviews and discourse analysis to examine how primary-level cadres’ live-streaming e-commerce (PCLE) enables primary-level cadres to present a positive political image, improve poverty alleviation efforts and sales, and gain public trust. The findings indicated that virtual gifts, bullet comments, and tipping during live-streaming have emerged as novel forms of connective action. In addition, a new and fragile collective identity was observed among the cadres, viewers, platforms, and enterprises involved. Furthermore, PCLE has been found to aid the survival of local enterprises and promote economic growth, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the monetization of cadres’ credibility poses risks to the credibility of governments. The current findings have significant implications for the live-streaming industry and digital governance at the local level.


primary-level cadres, connective action, live-streaming, digital governance

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