Mukbang Streamers in China: Wanghong as Industry, Laborer, and Exemplar of Social Transformation

Sijun Shen


Wanghong studies are emerging as an important field in international communication studies, but scarce research focuses on particular subgenres of wanghong. This article builds on data collected through netnographic research and investigates eat-streaming from the three areas developed through wanghong literature: Wanghong as industry, laborer, and exemplars of social transformation. As an industry, eat-streaming is high-profile as it was promoted by party media, and national law was tailored to its management; as laborers, eat-streamers manifest broader gender and socioeconomic inequalities as undereducated, underprivileged, rural women who have been hospitalized repeatedly over the years as a direct result of their live-streaming labor; and as exemplars, eat-streamers exemplify successful figures for China’s socialist development. Contributing to studies of wanghong and China’s Internet governance, this article argues that eat-streaming in China further demonstrates the acute sociopolitical tensions embodied in China’s wanghong industry, explicitly concerning governance, labor conditions, and social inequalities.


China, wanghong, microcelebrity, Internet governance, mukbang (eat-streaming), digital labor, social media entertainment

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