The city and the grassroots, mobile-ized: Notes and questions from Asia-Pacific

Jack L.C. Qiu
School of Journalism and Communication,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


How does the unfolding of class politics impact, and is influenced by, digital transformations in Asia? This puzzle is central to debates on Asia, where most of the world’s expanding working-class population resides. In this paper I attempt to unpack the puzzle by first interrogating the novelty of Asian – especially Chinese – class politics in the new century, particularly when it concerns “working-class ICTs” and “the information have-less”. I will then discuss the pluralist notion of “working-class public spheres” to describe, explain, and theorize what’s happening on the ground, and online, across this new terrain of Asian digital politics. In so doing, I open up questions about emergent cultures, collective action, alternative expression, censorship, and opportunities to enhance qualitative comparative studies of digital cultures in Asia and globally.