[Air-L] CFP: Global Media and China Special Issue: Surveillance Capitalism

Xiao Han kilou.xiao.han at gmail.com
Wed Mar 4 22:22:00 PST 2020

Call for Papers - Abstracts due 31st May 2020

Surveillance Capitalism - Special Issue of Global Media and China

Guest Editor: Professor John Ellis, Royal Holloway University of London

Recent issues of Global Media and China have explored the specifically Chinese characteristics of internet services, involving a particular constellation of companies and services that is distinct from those developed in the USA. How do the particular affordances of the dominant Chinese internet services differ from those of Google, Amazon, Facebook and PayPal? The combination of financial information of personal data that WeChat now has is very different from that held by any Western corporation, where payment systems are separated from social networking systems. Indeed, Facebook’s recent attempt to launch a payment system similar to that of WeChat seems to have failed for a variety of reasons, including its potential to destabilise the Western banking system. It is now time for comparative studies and the development of an overview of the different constellations that have developed.

Debates in the West are developing around the nature of the privatisation of online services in the age of big data and the intent of things. Two events have accelerated this debate. The first is the growing concern around the misuse of data about individuals and its potential for influencing behaviour, evidenced by the rise of ‘fake news’ in social media and the scandal round Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Data on specific individuals who might be susceptible to influence was, in this case, used to target them with specific Facebook advertising messages in an attempt to influence their voting behaviour in both the Brexit referendum and the election of President Trump.

The second event is the publication of Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Zuboff provides a powerful, Marxist influenced, critique of the behaviour of internet giants of the USA, and their repurposing of the web from its initial idealistic public service direction. Zuboff’s critique is directed towards the huge scale of the internet corporations and their denial of any public responsibility for their actions. She discusses the rights and responsibilities of these giant private corporations in dealing with user data. They sell this predictive data to companies who “want to know the maximum they can extract from us in an exchange. They want to know how we behave in order to know how best to intervene in our behaviour”.

Zuboff’s critique is a powerful one, but she scarcely mentions China at all. Given that China’s internet giants are also private corporations devoted to the pursuit of profit, can it be said that China is developing a different model to the Surveillance Capitalism identified by Zuboff, or is it broadly similar? Indeed, is Zuboff’s model applicable to the Chinese situation at all?

This call for papers for a special issue of Global Media and China invites both specific case studies and more general overview articles in order to open a debate about the specifics of the different ways in which Western and Chinese enterprises have implemented the affordances of the internet and digital information management.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words in length, plus a short author bio-notes to Professor John Ellis Royal Holloway University of London at john.ellis at rhul.ac.uk <mailto:john.ellis at rhul.ac.uk> by 31st May 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 15th June 2020. 

Important dates:

31st May 2020 - abstracts and authors’ bio-notes 

15th June 2020 - notifications of abstract acceptance

15th November 2020 - full paper submission

31st December 2020 - notifications of peer-review results

31 March 2021 - submission of final revised paper

June 2021 special issue published

Please note than acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee publication. All submissions will undergo double blind peer review once completed articles are submitted.

Dr HAN Xiao

Research Assistant, Social Media Centre, Communication University of China (CUC)

Commissioning Editor, Global Media and China http://journals.sagepub.com/home/gch

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