Internet Use of Migrant Workers in the Pearl River Delta

  • Yinni PengEmail author
Original Paper


The paper is a report on the study of Internet use and migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta (PRD). First, the paper illustrates that educational attainment is a significant factor in determining the type of Internet use that appeals to migrant workers. Second, it points out that both work-oriented and entertainment-oriented uses of the Internet have a positive influence on migrant workers’ jobs and social lives in the PRD. Access to work-related information improves their employment opportunities, while the various means of entertainment provide relaxation. The online chat and the virtual community provide migrant workers with emotional support and a strong sense of their local identity. The Internet café and online games allow migrant workers to relieve the pressures of work and passively challenge the power hierarchy in the modern factory regime. The paper concludes that the Internet use has become the integral part of the city lives of migrant workers in the PRD.


Internet use Migrant workers Pearl River Delta 


  1. Bimber, B 2000 Measuring the gender gap on the Internet. Social Science Quarterly 81(3): 868–876Google Scholar
  2. Bonfadelli, H 2002 The Internet and knowledge gaps: A theoretical and empirical investigation. European Journal of Communication 17(1):65–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braverman, H. 1794 Labour and monopoly capital: The degradation of work in the twentieth century. New York: Monthly ReviewGoogle Scholar
  4. DiMaggio, P., E. Hargittai, C. Celeste & S. Shafer. 2003 From unequal access to differentiated use: A Literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality. Working paper #29,
  5. DiMaggio, P., E. Hargittai, W.R. Neuman & J.P. Robinson. 2001 Social implications of the Internet. Annual Review of Sociology 27(1): 307–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Edwards, R. 1979 Contested terrain: The transformation of the workplace in the twentieth century. New York: BasicGoogle Scholar
  7. Haythornthwaite, C. & B. Wellman. 2002 The Internet in everyday life: An introduction. In B. Wellman & C. Haythornthwaite (eds.) The Internet in everyday life. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 3–41Google Scholar
  8. Howard, P., L. Rainie & S. Jones. 2001 Days and nights on the Internet: The impact of a diffusing technology. American Behavioral Scientist 45(3): 382–404Google Scholar
  9. Katz, J.E., R.E. Rice & P. Aspden. 2001 The Internet, 1995–2000: Access, civic involvement, and social interaction. American Behavioral Scientist 45(3): 405–419Google Scholar
  10. Katz, J.E., & R.E. Rice. 2002 Social consequences of Internet use: Access, involvement, and interaction. Cambridge, MA: MITGoogle Scholar
  11. Kraut, R., S. Kiesler, B. Boneva, J. Cummings, V. Helgeson & A. Crawford. 2002 Internet paradox revisited. Journal of Social Issues 58(1): 49–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Law, P.L., & Y.N. Peng. 2006 The use of cellphone amongst migrant workers in southern China. In P.L. Law, L. Foutunati and S.H. Yang (eds.) New technologies in global societies. Singapore: World Scientific, 245–258Google Scholar
  13. Lee, C.K. 1998 Gender and the south China miracle: Two worlds of factory women. Berkeley: University of California PressGoogle Scholar
  14. Li, Y.H. & S. Tan. 2000 Migration of rural people and gender. Beijing: Zhongyuang Peasant (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Ong, A. 1991 The gender and labour politics of postmodernity. Annual Review of Anthropology 20: 279–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pun, N. 2005 Made in China: Women factory workers in a global workplace. Durham: Duke University PressGoogle Scholar
  17. Wang, C.G. 2001 The social identification of the new generation of migrant workers and its relationship with city–village merger. Sociological Research 3: 63–76 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Wellman, B. 2001 Physical place and cyberplace: The rise of personalized networking. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25(2): 227–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Zhao, S. 2006 Do Internet users have more social ties? A call for differentiated analysis of Internet use. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11(3): 844–862CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, New TerritoriesChina

Personalised recommendations