International Journal of Communication
Publishes a Special Section on Global to Village

Global to village image

While McLuhan’s famous “global village” concept invokes the village in a metaphorical sense without paying any attention to rural issues, media and rural development was a primary concern in communication as a nascent post-World War II social science discipline. Today, despite massive urbanization and various premature pronouncements about the “death of the peasantry,” the size of the world’s rural population is larger than ever, and rural people all over the world continue to demonstrate themselves to be formidable social forces and cultural agents.

How can we deepen the study of global communication?  How can the communication field renew its engagement with the rural population and village communities in our globalized and digitalized world?

How to conceptualize and integrate the urban–rural divide, and along with it, the “metabolic rift” that Marx had also concerned himself with, as a relevant analytical framework for research perspectives that have systematically privileged the urban and prioritized the labor–capital relationship in studying the intersections of communication, culture and global capitalism?

In the Summer of 2015, Yuezhi Zhao, a Canadian-based communication scholar and editor of this Special Section, took a group of young Canadian scholars to Heyang, her native Chinese village, to “ground” their respective research topics in the rural context.  Participants included current Simon Fraser University (SFU) doctoral students and graduates of both SFU and the Communication University of China global communication MA double-degree program. The result is a test bed in a new rural communication research agenda and a unique experiment in global communication pedagogy.

Informed by the transcultural political economy of a global communication perspective and immersed in field research in the village, this “Global to Village: Grounding Communication Research in Rural China” Special Section turns McLuhan’s global village concept inside out. In combining political economy with field research and engaging with the multifaceted lived experiences of villagers, Heyang serves as a vantage point from which global systems and systemic issues are reassessed, reexamined, and even reimagined. The insights generated by the papers add nuances to the grand narratives of China’s rise and its soft power projection overseas. They also demonstrate the pressing need for communication and cultural scholars to move beyond the instrumentally focused concerns with information technologies and development to engage with the place of the rural in the sustenance of cultural identity, community, and local ecology, as well as ways to live a “good life.”

We invite you to read these articles that published in the International Journal of Communication on October 30, 2017  Please Ctrl+Click on the article titles below for direct linking to the papers of interest.

Introduction to Global to Village: Grounding Communication Research in Rural China
Yuezhi Zhao

The Political Economy and Cultural Politics of Rural Nostalgia in Xi-Era China: The Case of Heyang
Linda Qian

When Technological Closeness Begets Social Distancing: From Mobile Phones to Wired Radio and a Yearning for the Mass Line in Rural China
Byron Hauck

A Dreamland or the Land of Broken Dreams: Juxtaposed Conceptions of the Good Life in Heyang
Xiaoxing Zhang

Toward Multiple Conceptions of Human-Nature Relationship: The “Human-Nature Unity” Frame Found in a Chinese Village
Sibo Chen

Reading Movement in the Everyday: The Rise of Guangchangwu in a Chinese Village
Maggie Chao

Research as Communicative Praxis: Crossing the Urban–Rural Divide in Understanding Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Movement
Vanessa Kong

Rewiring UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and Rural Peripheries: Imagined Community and Concrete Inequality from France’s Corsica to China’s Heyang
Joseph Nicolai

Larry Gross

Arlene Luck
Managing Editor

Yuezhi Zhao
Guest Editor