You are here: Home About CASSIS Prof. Maximilian Mayer Infrastructures of China's Modernity Infrastructures of Manipulation

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of Manipulation

Photo by Caleb Martin on Unsplash


Digitalization in China has advanced rapidly and comprehensively. It has fundamentally changed the relationship between citizens and the state. Today, the combination between authoritarianism and ubiquitous digital ecosystems is considered typical for the Chinese-style surveillance state. But China can also be seen as a laboratory, in which new institutional arrangements and norms of technological societies are experimentally developed. The research of this project focuses on “manipulation infrastructures” – including the social credit system, private mega-apps, digitalized payment systems and the national crypto currency – through which individual reasoning, emotions, and behavior are more or less openly manipulated. Which practices of “digital citizenship” emerge from the interplay of censorship, nudging, and total datafication of everyday life? For instance, after China’s successful containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, will corporeal data become the foundation of a physically measurable definition of a healthy citizen? What are the similarities between commercial manipulation infrastructures in China and elsewhere? Can China succeed in having its model copied and accepted in other societies through smart city projects worldwide and the export of digital technologies such as automated facial recognition and health codes? Do we globally experience the convergence and consolidation a new socio-technical constitution at nexus of subjectivity, state and platforms?

Project begin in 2021.



Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, China’s Government Tightens Its Grip – The Diplomat.jpgMayer, M., & Smith, N. R. (2020, February 15). Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, China’s Government Tightens Its Grip.

The CCP’s response to the epidemic foreshadows a massive health-surveillance regime. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is a monumental challenge for the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in China. The deaths are mounting, draconian laws are affecting the daily lives of the entire population, and the economic costs are already staggering and growing day by day. The political implications of the coronavirus outbreak have become particularly virulent in the wake of the death of the whistleblowing doctor, Li Wenliang. For many, the story of Dr. Li symbolizes the CCP’s culpability for the epidemic spinning out of control... more



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