Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar

“Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

2020-02-04 12:00:002020-02-04 13:00:00Asia/Hong_Kong“Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar
“Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

Dr. Tom McDonald
(Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong)

Date: February 4, 2020 (Tuesday)
Time: 12:00 – 13:00
Venue: Room 201, 2/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong
Enquiry: (852) 3917-5772, ihss@hku.hk

    2020-02-04 12:00:002020-02-04 13:00:00Asia/Hong_Kong“Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

    Interdisciplinary Lunchtime Seminar
    “Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

    Dr. Tom McDonald
    (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong)

    Date: February 4, 2020 (Tuesday)
    Time: 12:00 – 13:00
    Venue: Room 201, 2/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong
    Enquiry: (852) 3917-5772, ihss@hku.hk

      Overview

      Title:

      “Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

      Speaker:

      Dr. Tom McDonald (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong)

      Date:

      February 4, 2020

      Time:

      12:00 nn – 1:00 pm

      Venue:

      Room 201, 2/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong (Map)

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      (Tel) (852) 3917-5772
      (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Title:

      “Pulling the sheep’s wool”: Online thrift, labour relations and domesticity in a Chinese factory

      Speaker:

      Dr. Tom McDonald (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong)

      Date:

      February 4, 2020

      Time:

      12:00 nn – 1:00 pm

      Venue:

      Room 201, 2/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong (Map)

      Language:

      English

      Enquiry:

      (Tel) (852) 3917-5772
      (Email) ihss@hku.hk

      Abstract

      This paper draws on data collected during ethnographic fieldwork in a factory in south-east China to describe the significance of a group of activities colloquially known as “pulling the sheep’s wool” (haoyangmao). This wide-ranging set of thrift-oriented practices involves gaining rewards and discounts by collecting various credits and points, most often through activities conducted on online shopping, news and payment platforms. This paper shows how these activities are reshaping the rhythms and structures of everyday factory life, bringing into sharp focus competing demands between online and offline, work and leisure, while also challenging the distinctions between these domains. Although recent studies have sought to reposition thrift as a consumptive practice through which the concept of the house is enacted, this paper demonstrates how thrift acts in a factory environment largely unmoored from notions of domesticity, instead delineating social boundaries between production line workers and managers, while also fostering communal behaviours amongst labourers. This leads me to argue that there is a need to acknowledge how thrift can operate independently of the home, household management and family economics.

      About the Speaker

      Dr. Tom McDonald is an Anthropologist at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on technology and society in China. His first co-authored book, How the World Changed Social Media (2016, UCL Press), details the findings of the UCL Why We Post project, an ERC-funded comparative ethnographic study on the use and consequences of social media around the world. His solely-authored monograph, Social Media in Rural China: Social Networks and Moral Frameworks (UCL Press, 2016) describes his own extensive fieldwork in the Chinese countryside. His current research investigates the adoption of digital money platforms amongst migrant factory workers in Shenzhen, examining how such platforms are reworking monetary practices and social infrastructures amongst low-income labourers. He has published articles in several respected academic journals, including American AnthropologistChina Quarterly, and Ethnos.

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