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Programming Practices of Chinese Code Farmers

Articulations, Technology, and Alternatives
Ping Sun
p. 19-27


Built on the theoretical framework of articulation and assemblage, this article explores programming practices among grassroots programmers in contemporary China. Using data obtained from ethnographic fieldwork in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, it provides an account of the information technology practices in contemporary China at the nexus of the Beijing government, IT corporations, and individual programmers. Through examining how programming is articulated in both China’s advocacy for “a creative society” and grassroots programmers’ daily practices in the process of China’s informatization, this article has mapped myriad articulations such as engagement, communication, discourse, and practice that have made and unmade grassroots programmers’ programming assemblage. We argue that technology for Chinese programmers is a mixed blessing. As a means of survival, technology exacerbates the precariousness and marginalisation of grassroots programmers in China, while the capability of technology production also enables the remaking of subjectivity and social change. The findings of this study thus advocate a deeper and dialectical understanding of the interaction between technology, labour, and empowerment.

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Bibliographical reference

Ping Sun, « Programming Practices of Chinese Code Farmers », China Perspectives, 2017/4 | 2017, 19-27.

Electronic reference

Ping Sun, « Programming Practices of Chinese Code Farmers », China Perspectives [Online], 2017/4 | 2017, Online since 01 December 2018, connection on 23 January 2019. URL :

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About the author

Ping Sun

Ping Sun is Assistant Professor at the Department of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Building No. 9, Panjiayuan Dongli, Beijing, Chaoyang District (

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