ISSN 1016-1007 GPN2005600032
頁數:57﹣111 數位嵌入與網際連結下的機緣催化: 淘寶村多元行動者的共生共治 Opportunistic Catalysis Embedded in Digital Networking Technology: Symbiosis and Co-Governance of Multiple Actors in Taobao Village
Yu-Ting Sun, Jian-Ting Zhang, Chao-Yun Liang
digital technology, identity transformation, opportunity structure, rural elites, symbiosis and co-governance, Taobao Village
For a long time, rural societies in China have been dominated by an exogenous order, resulting in insufficient rural endogeneity and causing rural governance to face numerous difficulties. With the comprehensive advancement of rural revitalization, Taobao Village, where e-commerce supports agriculture, has led a new field that combines the application of digital networking technology with natural resources. The transformation of modern production relations and economic models has not destroyed the inherent tradition of Taobao Village. Instead, the endogenous nature of rural society has been activated by the mobility practice of multiple actors and the reconstruction of social networks, which share the dividends to achieve good rural governance between the balance and tension of internal and external orders. Therefore, it is interesting to explore the social mechanism behind the compatibility and symbiosis of both rurality and modernity.

This study explores the symbiotic relationship between digital technology and the identity transformation of rural actors based on the social network perspective through fieldwork in the well-known Taobao Village of Jiangsu province. It further investigates the social mechanism behind the formation of symbiotic networks and co-governance in China’s new era of rural revitalization. This study deals with the following three research questions: (1) How do e-commerce and digital technology, as enabling media, trigger the role identity transformation of different rural actors (rural elites and ordinary villagers)? (2) What kind of rural social relationship network has been reshaped by the identity transformation of multiple actors? (3) What kind of logic of rural co-governance is revealed behind this network of relationships?

The structural hole theory emphasizes that the embedding of third-party intermediaries can connect actors who have no direct relationship or are disconnected, thus playing the role of information transmission and complementary mobilization. The strong relationships formed in traditional Chinese rural society not only repel external forces, but also make it difficult to generate new forces and for structural holes to form. With the process of rural modernization, the collision of tradition and modernity in rural governance has not only given rise to a large number of structural holes, but also caused tension among the structural holes due to the action of multiple forces.
The political opportunity structure theory explains structural holes from the perspective of external political attributes. In the process of rural modernization, original political opportunities are constantly being reshaped, and new political opportunities induce different actions and identity transformations. However, this theory has rarely been applied to rural governance.

Returning rural elites, as third-party intermediaries in the hole of the traditional rural structure, participate in rural governance together with village-resident elites, essentially acting out critical roles in maintaining rural social order. Therefore, this study combines the theories of structural hole and political opportunity structure, takes a social network perspective, and starts from the endogenous and exogenous orders to explore the social network shaped by the dynamic transformation of the multiple identities of different rural actors and the social mechanisms behind them.
Based on the “digital networking technology + flower and tree industry” model, the current study selects Taobao Village in Shuyang County, Jiangsu Province, China as a case study. Through fieldwork, both in-depth interviews and participatory observations were conducted with 14 rural actors, supplemented by news reports. The findings present that diverse rural actors, driven by opportunities, co-created a symbiotic network pattern of fluid collaboration and co-governance logic behind it.

The results reveal the following. (1) The opportunity structure created by China’s macro-level political system and digital economy has extended the rural social network originally based on blood, geographic, and industrial structures. It promotes rural actors to develop action strategies and to transform their identities within the established structure and position, filling the structural holes in the network.

(2) The village under digital empowerment is a value co-creation process constructed by heterogeneous actor networks. Elites with capital advantages obtain increasing resources through digital empowerment, occupy core structural holes, and create values conducive to political absorption, economic sharing, and information dividends, shaping a collaborative and mutually beneficial elite network. Filling a structural hole in the assistance network, grassroots organizations bring together multiple actors to form a binding force that gives full play to the public welfare benefits of rural revitalization and the economic benefits of getting rich. Under the mobilization, villagers establish a symbiotic and interdependent relationship and develop multi-dimensional bulk occupations in daily life. The elite network scrolls out of the village network and then connects the inside with the outside of the village, forming a gradual diffusion and symbiosis structure of circles.

(3) The essence of Mulan village’s modern business model is still at the practical application level of instrumental rationality. The economic form within the village is characterized by the organic solidarity embedded in digital e-commerce as the external feature. The production and sales model is based on local trust as the internal mechanical solidarity feature and also embedded in the overall mechanical society of the state power structure.

(4) The economic model of digital networking technology and China’s specific political system have given rise to an opportunity structure. The political governance capability constructed by political priority with the support of digital technology has shaped a symbiotic network pattern and revealed the logic behind Mulan village’s good governance, reflecting the pattern of symbiosis and good governance of multiple actors in the Taobao village.

At the academic level, this study enriches the practical application of both structural hole and political opportunity structure theories in rural transformation from the two levels of endogeneity and external macrostructure. In addition, it proposes an innovative concept of opportunity and the specific social network it involves; i.e., symbiotic network = blood + geographic + industrial + opportunity structures. This provides a more comprehensive and diverse explanatory power for the social mechanism of rural revitalization and good governance. At the practical level, in the face of the multiple combined forces of the state, capital, and digital networking technology, the case of Mulan village in this study is an essential reference for rural development in China. Being good at innovation and change, seizing opportunities, and accumulating superimposed capital for identity transformation are the action logic for actors to transform their identities and implement rural revitalization.
2024/ 冬