Jialing Song | Gendering Digital Cultural Production in Chinese Platform Economy

Jialing Song | Gendering Digital Cultural Production in Chinese Platform Economy | University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis | Supervisors: Jeroen de Kloet; Tommy Tse | September 2022 – September 2026 | j.song[at]uva.nl

Xiaohongshu is a social media platform initially targeting Chinese middle-class women within a frame of globalized consumer culture, which now plays a prominent role in surging iterative waves of normative femininities in contemporary China. It is very understudied, however, and often considered without a focus on its imbricate gender power relations within the platform ecosystem. Drawing upon the literature in postfeminist media culture, platform studies, and gendered digital labor, this project will build up an integrated framework consisting of four dimensions: 1) How did RED accumulate and stabilize a vast number of female users in the Chinese platform economy? 2) What are the visualities, aesthetic forms, and content genres of their gendered and platform-based cultural production? 3) How is RED structured by its infrastructures to afford and mobilize these users for their platform practices? 4) How do Chinese female subjects on RED not only labor but also commit to shaping the community and sociality on digital media platforms?

This project aims to fill in the gap of a specific gender focus in the process of Chinese platformization and contribute to understanding the formation of Chinese gendered subjects vis-à-vis digital cultural production, as well as in what ways they participate in, interact with, and navigate the system of the Chinese platform economy.