When Web 2.0 Meets Public Participation GIS (PPGIS): VGI and Spaces of Participatory Mapping in China


While existing studies provide important insights into power relations and spatial knowledge production impacted by volunteered geographic information (VGI), this chapter argues that more research is needed to investigate how these new geospatial technologies have constituted the actor’s subjectivities and the politics of citizen participation. Drawing upon public participation GIS (PPGIS) studies, critical GIS research and critical social theory, this chapter examines the mutual and complex relationships between subject formation and geospatial technology development and their implications for spaces and politics of citizen participation in a variety of contexts. A case study in China is presented with three examples of VGI mapping drawn from ethnographic fieldwork. These VGI practices in China have constituted multiple “DigiPlaces,” a notion proposed by Matt Zook and Mark Graham that is characterized by greater visibility with automatic production, increased individualism, and dynamism. Furthermore, these practices are simultaneously impacted by the complex process of subject constitution, informed by Mark Poster’s notion of “the mode of information,” marked by the proliferation of electronic communications that helps to constitute multiple subjectivities. In particular, coupling with rapid Internet and new communication technology developments, Chinese citizenship witnessed growing awareness of individual rights and more decentered self-identities compared to two decades ago. As such, new spaces of citizen participation are constructed by these VGI practices; however, significant challenges remain regarding the intersection of possibilities and existing economic and sociopolitical inequalities.


Social Networking Site Civic Engagement Citizen Participation Twitter User Volunteer Geographic Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Politics and SociologyNewcastle UniversityNewcastle Upon TyneUK

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