Jamie Jing-Men Wong

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts Inst. of Technology

Grant number

Gr. 9937

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Wong, Jamie Jing-Men (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology) "Data Entrepreneurship and Chinese Political Culture," supervised by Dr. Graham Jones

Against the backdrop of ambitious directives from the Chinese Communist Party mandating “smart city” solutions to urban problems, this dissertation studies how regional governments in Hangzhou and Shanghai are enlisting tech companies and startups to devise new forms of social knowledge and new modalities of governance with data-driven technologies. In this setting, data has increasingly become a prominent medium of exchange between these governmental and non-governmental actors. Companies headed by entrepreneurs and staffed by computer programmers commercialize “big data” analyses of complex public-sector systems spanning telecommunications, transportation, wastewater, and other domains traditionally overseen by state regulation. Through ethnographic research within and across networks of data entrepreneurship in Hangzhou and Shanghai, I intend to trace how data creates value through circulation and attend to the networks of influence constituted through processes of technologically enhancing and transforming it. This project explores how the conjuncture of commercial interests, reformist public policy, and innovations in digital technology may be reshaping Chinese political culture, and seeks to illuminate not only the divergent ways “big data” is adapted, localized and domesticated, but also the changing practices of governance in contemporary, neoliberal China.