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Article: Strangership and Social Media: Moral Imaginaries of Gendered Strangers in Rural China

TitleStrangership and Social Media: Moral Imaginaries of Gendered Strangers in Rural China
Authors
Issue Date2018
Citation
American Anthropologist (Forthcoming) How to Cite?
Abstract“The stranger” has been a recurring figure in anthropology and sociology, often taken to represent the antithesis of kinship and friendship, or as personifying the anomie of contemporary social life. Drawing on participant observation documenting interactions with strangers occurring on social media in a rural Chinese town, I demonstrate how online stranger relations happening therein rework existing boundaries between friends and strangers, while also assuming uniquely gendered qualities. This fuels social imaginaries and moral concerns around such interactions posing an implicit threat to traditional forms of relationships, especially monogamous marriage. Building on this unique instance of stranger relations, I argue for the need to develop an anthropological notion of “strangership” capable of treating such connections as an analytically distinct relational form. Acknowledging the local specificities and potentialities of strangership is, I claim, a necessary first step for unlocking the concept’s comparative potential for the anthropological discipline.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/258724

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorMcDonald, T-
dc.date.accessioned2018-08-22T01:43:02Z-
dc.date.available2018-08-22T01:43:02Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationAmerican Anthropologist (Forthcoming)-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/258724-
dc.description.abstract“The stranger” has been a recurring figure in anthropology and sociology, often taken to represent the antithesis of kinship and friendship, or as personifying the anomie of contemporary social life. Drawing on participant observation documenting interactions with strangers occurring on social media in a rural Chinese town, I demonstrate how online stranger relations happening therein rework existing boundaries between friends and strangers, while also assuming uniquely gendered qualities. This fuels social imaginaries and moral concerns around such interactions posing an implicit threat to traditional forms of relationships, especially monogamous marriage. Building on this unique instance of stranger relations, I argue for the need to develop an anthropological notion of “strangership” capable of treating such connections as an analytically distinct relational form. Acknowledging the local specificities and potentialities of strangership is, I claim, a necessary first step for unlocking the concept’s comparative potential for the anthropological discipline.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.relation.ispartofAmerican Anthropologist-
dc.titleStrangership and Social Media: Moral Imaginaries of Gendered Strangers in Rural China-
dc.typeArticle-
dc.identifier.emailMcDonald, T: mcdonald@hku.hk-
dc.identifier.authorityMcDonald, T=rp02060-
dc.identifier.hkuros286659-

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