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A preliminary study on the use of mobile phones amongst migrant workers in Beijing

Ke Yang

pp. 65-72


The past decade has witnessed the rapid growth in the number of mobile phone users in China. According to a survey conducted amongst migrant workers and reported in this study, mobile phones have become sufficiently affordable for an overwhelming majority of migrants. Drawing on examples from Beijing, this article discusses the implications of mobile phone usage among migrant workers in China. Through an analysis of their stories about their daily lives, this paper attempts to explicate migrant workers' mobile phone usage against a background of their alienated situation in Beijing. The author explores the responses of the migrants to their situation in relation to the social usage of mobile phone and specifically introduces and discusses four concepts for understanding patterns of migrant mobile phone use: feigned presence, concern in absence, jianghu relations, and romantic relations. The paper ends with the conclusion that the patterns of mobile phone usage contribute to changes in migrant workers' way of life. Residual problems and avenues of future research that arise from this study are also discussed in the conclusion.

Publication details

Published in:

Law Pui-lam, Rodney Chu Wai-chi (2008) ICT and migrant workers in China. Knowledge, Technology & Policy 21 (2).

Seiten: 65-72

DOI: 10.1007/s12130-008-9047-7


Yang Ke (2008) „A preliminary study on the use of mobile phones amongst migrant workers in Beijing“. Knowledge, Technology & Policy 21 (2), 65–72.