Zhibo: an ethnography of ordinary, boring, and vulgar livestreams

Zhang, G 2019, Zhibo: an ethnography of ordinary, boring, and vulgar livestreams, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Zhibo: an ethnography of ordinary, boring, and vulgar livestreams
Author(s) Zhang, G
Year 2019
Abstract In the West, the phenomenal rise of Twitch.tv and livestreaming videogames has attracted much academic attention. In China, the exponential growth of the livestreaming industry from 2014 to 2017 has posed a new set of questions and alternative screen practices. Zhibo (literally "direct cast") - as livestreaming is called in China - has become the primary site for ordinary people to perform their quotidian life live to regular viewers and ardent fans. This ethnographic project primarily studies one livestreaming platform, Douyu, and asks the question: How can we conceptualise Chinese livestreamers' performances of everyday life as well as the ways in which their viewers perceive and participate their performances? In particular, how do the performative tropes of zhibo reflect specific notions of ordinariness, boredom, and vulgarity in contemporary China?

In order to answer this question, this thesis is divided into two parts. Firstly, this thesis will investigate contemporary livestreaming platform in its specific remediation of liveness and streaming as it moves across multiple aspects of socio-technological reiterations - from the directory of categories/genres, to the attention economy, to its interfacial performativity. Secondly, I focus on the three interrelated performative tropes of zhibo - ordinariness, boredom, and vulgarity - through an ethnographically-engaged analysis of viewers and streamers on Douyu. The methods of data collection include participant observation, interviews, site visits, analysis of commentaries from Chinese media pundits and, most importantly, archiving livestream events themselves.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Computer Gaming and Animation
Communication Studies
Keyword(s) Digital anthropology
Livestreaming platform
Online video
Livestreaming media
Boredom studies
Chinese internet
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Created: Thu, 19 Sep 2019, 10:45:57 EST by Adam Rivett
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