From open source cultures, piracy, to amateur media and on-demand labour, informal media activities are vibrant in circuits of cultural production, distribution, consumption and labour utilisation in China. They come in different sizes and shapes, involve multiple actors, often with transnational ties and tensions, and challenge polemic views. Why do these informal activities occur, and how do they evolve? What cultural and social consequences do they have? In what ways do they pose challenges to governance and provoke us to rethink the notion? This book engages with diverse forms of the informal and their equally diverse interactions with the formal in the broader context of the rise of digital platforms, the contingent and complicated state–market interactions, and evolving roles of users. The book provides a vivid and original account of how digital platforms navigate formal and informal boundaries at both operational and discursive levels; how enthusiastic fans, aspiring amateurs, 'ordinary' users and necessity-driven labourers become integral to the formal/informal interface; and how state and non-state actors intervene in governing the formal/informal dynamics. In doing so, the book opens up new insights into the ongoing digital transformation in China. 

chapter 1|21 pages


chapter 2|22 pages

Repackaged informality and norm-based governance

From shanzhaiji to open source-powered smartphones

chapter 3|20 pages

In and out of shadows

Negotiating boundaries and legitimacy in mobile app distribution

chapter 4|21 pages

Swinging pendulums

From the Wild West to content matrix on online video platforms

chapter 5|22 pages

Aspirations, precarity and agency

Creative labour in the formalising internet literature market

chapter 6|23 pages

Between entrenched and ‘smart’ informalities

Ride-hailing platforms and governance challenges

chapter 7|13 pages