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Talk by Genia Kostka: Digital Technologies in China: Towards a More Just and Equal society?

May 25, 2023 | 01:00 PM - 02:30 PM

Genia Kostka will present on ‘Digital Technologies in China: Towards a More Just and Equal society?’ in Vienna at RECET Festival Tranformations of (In)Equality on May 25th 2023.

Registration is required only for those wishing to participate via ZOOM broadcast.

In the digital era, information and communication technologies  have provided citizens with new opportunities for public participation that could increase the responsiveness, transparency and accountability of authoritarian rule. At the same time, the collection and analysis of large amount of data impose new risks related to data privacy, surveillance, and cyberbullying.  Scholars further worry that digital technologies increase the chances of regime survival by enhancing autocrats’ capacities for surveillance and repression without actually promoting political pluralism. Looking at the case of China, this talk looks at how digital technologies have transformed social, economic, and political life in China. China's city governments have begun to experiment with digital technologies to harness the power of big data analytics for governing society. From using biometric checkpoints to track Muslim minorities, to using AI for intelligent traffic management, big data driven applications are mushrooming quickly in Chinese cities. What are China’s digital and big data ambitions and actual local realities? Are these digital experiments more ‘buzz and hype’ or real game changing? Do these technologies alter digital governance practices in authoritarian China and if so, how? Do we see more of a top-down or a bottom-up state-led digitalization process? Are digital technologies tools for convenience or control? And how do the technologies alter state-society relations in China? Specifically, do these digital technologies really lead towards a more just and equal society? Drawing from interviews, surveys, and a database of local digital initiatives across China, this talk will shed light on the intended and unintended consequences of incorporating digital technologies into local governance processes in Chinese cities. Driven by the continuously growing aging population and rapid digitalization, this talk will discuss how the age-based digital divide has also become an increasingly significant issue in China, which has been particularly exacerbated by the broad application of digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genia Kostka is a Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include digital technologies, digital governance, and societal transformation.

Claudia Kraft is a Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna since 2018. Before coming to Vienna she had worked at the University of Siegen as a Professor of Contemporary European History (2011-2018) and at the University of Erfurt as a Professor of Central and Eastern European History (2005-2011). She specializes in 20th century comparative European and particularly Central and Eastern European History. She is the speaker of the Research Platform "Transformations and Eastern Europe" and Member of the Research Platform "Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities" (GAIN) and of the Research Group "History of Human Rights and Democracy".

Time & Location

May 25, 2023 | 01:00 PM - 02:30 PM

via Zoom