E-commerce Triggered Bottom-up Development in Rural China: Multi-scale Embedded industrial cluster, ANT Approach and the Case of Dongfeng Village

Authors: Min Zhang*,
Topics: China, Cultural Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: cluster, embeddedness, ANT, furniture industry, e-commerce, rural develpment, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A new type of rural bottom-up development model triggered by e-commerce has emerged in China during last decade. But little is known about how remote and often backward villages can deploy the convenience and advance of ICT, especially e-commerce to establish business. More specifically, how resources and actors such as lands, capitals and labors in villages were motivated, interweaved and connected to outside markets and agents to shape a trans-local business network. This paper took a case study of Dongfeng village, one of the earliest e-commerce led booming villages. Applying the Actor Network Theory (ANT) approach and embeddedness theory, we revealed three distinct actor-networks along with the cluster’s growing, which helped us understanding that outwards connections and local social cultural traits were both important for rural area going towards prosperity. We traced the actors and the process of networking and found actors were embedded in multi-scale relationships or networks, including social networks based on acquaintance in the local level, economic cooperation networks both in local level and trans-local level. ICT, especially the e-commerce platform brought markets and external resources to rural areas and stimulated reorganization of local factors, and made the critical connection among heterogeneous actors and networks in multi-scales. However, the e-commerce and furniture manufacturing cluster in our case had encountered and fought to overcome crises and challenges from time to time, which not only showed the lock-in influence of societal, territorial, or network embeddedness, but also revealed the unbalanced power structure, unstable situation, and continuous adjustment of actor-networks.

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