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ERIC Number: ED530143
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 351
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-1129-1
Markets Hidden on Thoroughfares: The Social Construction of Economic Informality/Illegality in Beijing's Zhongguancun, China
Chang, Ho-Jun
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University
This dissertation deals with the tense relation between the visibility of unauthorized economic practices and the invisibility of law in Zhongguancun (ZGC) Beijing, a Chinese information technology (IT) industry center dubbed "China's Silicon Valley." This dissertation ethnographically examines the double process of extra-legal/illegal economic practices' emergence concomitant with ZGC's rapid economic development on the one hand, and their political and cultural construction as economically "informal" or "illegal" on the other. It explicates the different ways these concepts are treated by state enforcement authorities, perceived by ZGC's local public, and ultimately constructed as illegal through practices, discourses, and representations. The intertwining of informality and illegality is adumbrated in a reflexive way in the construction of ZGC as "China's Silicon Valley." This dissertation examines this symbolic international brand-making, which involves state appropriation of ZGC's positive images and purification of its shady underside, providing officials and the public with a sociopolitical prism with which to perceive unauthorized economic activities. Shady practices such as "bai tiao" (IOU note)-based credit transactions, cargo tricycle distribution and "pirated" intellectual property (IP) materials are also enumerated. While heavily stigmatized, they have nevertheless sustained ZGC's smooth economic operation. This dissertation analyzes how these practices persist in ZGC due to limited state intervention and vendors' efficient warding-off strategies: in the case of "pirated goods," IP laws' lack of social legitimacy furthers the practice's immunity. With changing international and local political economies, however, a hegemonic Chinese IP regime is under construction. This study demonstrates that with the "piracy" issue moralized on the international and government levels, some "immoral" business strategies recently employed by migrant vendors have led local residents to construct street piracy as both illicit and immoral. The public perception of illegality in these economic practices thus necessitates cultural internalization beyond legislative and legal definitions. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; China (Beijing)