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East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal

, 2:211

First Online: 04 November 2008Received: 01 December 2007Accepted: 17 September 2008


Based on a field study in a village in the northern plain of China, this paper reviews three different types in how Han-Chinese rural people have coped with domestic electrical appliances during the last 40-odd years of electrification. The aim of this paper is to offer an ethnographic study of the complex relations between technology and social life in a Chinese rural setting and to explore the logic and dynamics whereby rural populations confront and integrate new technical products into their everyday life. This paper is divided into three main parts: following the introduction on the -everyday technology approach- and background information about the field site, the author next gives a brief historical description of the electrification process in rural China. The third part is dedicated to the ethnographic data concerning five appliances: electric light, water pump, TV, washing machine and water boiler–cooler. The paper concludes with a discussion of issues concerning appropriation of new technology in the wider background of society-economy-state and everyday habitus, questioning how well conventional oppositional dichotomies like female-male, masculinity-feminity serve as analytical frameworks.

KeywordsGender Domestic appliances Electrification Rural China The empirical data of this paper stems from my fieldwork in 2003 and 2004 funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and in 2006–2007 funded by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. I thank Francesca Bray and Mareile Flitsch for their stimulating suggestions and comments and for polishing the language in this paper. I would like to express my deep appreciation to my dedicated English teacher James Sullivan for his patience in helping me render my ideas on paper. The constructive criticism and suggestions of two anonymous referees contributed essentially to the improvement of this paper. I am obliged to their meticulous comments and generous encouragement. Anja Sing also contributed to the language proofreading of this paper. But for any shortcomings or misleading interpretations, I alone take full responsibility.

男人购买, 女人使用


本文的写作基础是作者对中国北方一个汉族村落的社会人类学田野考察。由于中国农村的电器化过程长达四十年之久, 农村人群购买和使用家用电器的条件和方式呈现出非常多元的状态。作者选择考察日常生活五种电器—电灯、水泵、电视机、洗衣机、饮水机—来分析三种不同类型的购买和使用方式。本文的目的在于为研究中国农村社会环境下技术与社会生活的复杂关系提供民族志层面上的实证材料, 并探讨农村人群在日常生活中面对和接受新技术产品时所遵循的逻辑及其动力。

全文由三个主要部分组成 : 一、本文的理论背景即-日用技术研究方法-以及与田野调查相关的背景信息二、农村电气化的历史过程 ; 三、对农村人群购买和使用五种家用电器方式的民族志描写。作者认为, 在研究新技术产品如何被接受的过程时, 有必要将其置于社会-经济-国家这些大背景之下, 同时也必须注意到这一过程与日常惯习之间的内在关联。作者发现, 在家用电器进入农村家庭的过程中, 男女性别二元对立出现缓解, 农村家庭中夫妻之间的合作互助关系得以加强, 尽管男性与女性在购买和使用这些电器产品上各自有不同的想法和做法。

关键词 : 社会性别, 家用电器, 电气化, 中国农村

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Autor: Xiujie Wu


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