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Working-Class Network SocietyCommunication Technology and the Information Have-Less in Urban China$
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Jack Linchuan Qiu

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262170062

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262170062.001.0001

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Internet Cafés

Internet Cafés

(p.21) 2 Internet Cafés
Working-Class Network Society

Jack Linchuan Qiu

The MIT Press

This chapter describes China’s cybercafé, or “Net bar (wangba),” business. It specifically provides an analytical overview of Internet cafés, their historical trajectory, internal differentiation, and implications for working-class network society. The chapter shows that the growth of the Internet café as a working-class information and communication technology (ICT) is more remarkable when compared with other modes of access. It also draws four basic types of collective Internet access venues in China: (1) promotional cafés, (2) elite cafés, (3) mass-service Net bars, and (4) illegal or semilegal black Net bars. The chapter reveals that the dispute with the online gaming industry illustrates the political awareness of working-class providers, and addresses how Internet cafés can be a better sphere of the commons.

Keywords:   cybercafé, China, Internet cafés, working-class network, ICT, promotional cafés, elite cafés, Net bars, black Net bars, online gaming industry

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