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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsIn the next three videos we were going to explore what we can learn from comparing our two Chinese field sites we're going to talk about not just what this can tell us about social media but also discuss some of the problems of generalizing about a place as big as China one of the defining features of my rural China field site where many families have lived for generations is that people strongly identify with certain values in fact the people of this region often seen as being exemplary of this for instance these values include things like morality attitudes towards one's family and respect for one's parents and even one's ancestors in other words things that are strongly identified with Confucianism and with other Chinese folk religions given this orientation towards tradition the introduction of a new media in the town was bound to cause concern especially in relation to core issues such as education and family as a result people trying to adapt social media and use it to express some of those traditional values a good example of this comes from sharing special baby photos online when one's child reaches a hundred days old and this builds on established celebrations of this event which involved banquets for extended family and friends Here the owner of a photo studio in the town and the young mother both explain

Skip to 1 minute and 44 secondsthey take '100th day' photos'... it is called this, but they won't take it on the 100th day. It’s possible to take the 100-day photos a few days earlier or later.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 secondsThey all think that at 100 days, a child is especially...cute So they will take this kind of a set of photos They'll keep it, and show it to the child when they grow up. 99% of young parents will upload the photos to their Qzone profile page. and share it with relatives and friends so they can see it. I think if I maintain our Qzone from the day my son is born, right up to the day he becomes an adult, and then give this QQ account to him, I think that that is the very best present I can give him because it has recorded of all of his growth.

Skip to 2 minutes and 29 secondsWhen my son had his '100-day photo', there were five or six sets of costumes Anyway, I picked some costumes that were fun, some that looked good, and some that were funny. Then we got a photo album and a few framed photos made, and they gave me pretty much all the original unedited digital photos. Then I upload all the photos in my QZone. You don't know whether one day the photos or album will get damaged or lost. But with QZone, it's more...permanent. As long as I don't lose my QQ, then it's here.

Skip to 3 minutes and 6 secondsAh! Find your auntie… go find your auntie.

Skip to 3 minutes and 24 secondsother expressions of traditional social media include romantic memes which are shared on Qzone pages, which often feature really long text about devotions of love and marriage these are typically shared by young unmarried students in their late teens and early twenties and here they take these ideals of romantic love and then link them with traditional values of marriage and family a final example of social media as both maintaining but also extending tradition comes from classmate groups the continued relationship with classmates has long been seen as an important but also enduring unit of Chinese society QQ helps facilitate this traditional notion, by allowing classmates to remain long after graduation graduation as an enduring and long-term network of support so to summarise, in my field site which shows a devotion to Chinese tradition and these three examples of sharing baby photos, of sharing romantic memes, and of the creation and maintenance of classmate groups all point towards the way in which local people have taken innovations of social media and re-appropriated it in quite a traditional way to fit with rural Chinese morals and ethics

'Traditional’ new media in rural China

In this video Tom examines how people in his rural Chinese field site are using new social media platforms to support activities that they think of as traditional.

Do you think a ‘new’ technology can also be ‘traditional’? Are there any ways in which social media is used in your country to support traditional practices?

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This video is from the free online course:

Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

UCL (University College London)

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