Concerns With Infrastructuring: Invisible and Invasive Forces of Digital Platforms in Hangzhou, China

Kirsikka Grön, Zhuo Chen, Minna Ruckenstein


The techno-nationalist and surveillant aspects of Chinese platform infrastructuralization are well-documented, yet less explored are the responses of citizens and consumers to the fast-evolving digital infrastructures shaping daily lives. Instead of focusing on the economic and political landscape, we offer a perspective that shifts from structures to processes, aiming to bridge studies of platforms and infrastructures. Through a participatory research design, we explore how couples, families, and groups of friends in Hangzhou cope with platform infrastructures. By tracing moments, interactions, and relationships recognized as critical in terms of living with digital platforms, we highlight instances of infrastructural realization and triggered and unconcerned responses to platform power. Our analysis advocates the acknowledgment of the complex and generative nature of platform developments, involving not only corporate and regulatory interests but also the preoccupations of everyday users. Understanding how people in China react to the emerging platform infrastructures provides insights, which can be used as a starting point when speculating about futures where platforms are even more deeply woven into daily life, prompting collective deliberation and pushback.


platformization, platform infrastructuralization, infrastructuring, everyday life, China

Full Text: