Seminar 24 April 2024 @4-5:30pm: The digital imaginary of ageing China

Published: 15 February 2024

Speaker: Wilfred Yang Wang, University of Melbourne

Location: Room 139 (The Boardroom), 29 Bute Gardens, University of Glasgow.
And online with registration at:


In this presentation, I aim to examine and reflect on both the perceived role and actual state of operation of digital media in China’s response to the ageing society, which has become a major economic, social and increasingly, political issue in the country. By drawing on research data collected from different studies and multiple methods since 2020, including government policy inquiry, platform and content analyses, and field observations made from eastern China, where I plan to return to after this presentation, the objective is threefold.

First, I will reflect on the discursive construction of ‘digital technology’ in shaping the broader discourse around ‘ageing’ and ‘aged care’ in China. By studying government policies and industry’s responses through a comparative discourse analysis approach, it is found that China’s ‘digital aged care’ anchors within the political economy of  the country’s digital platform economies. Such a structure emphasises the supreme role of the state in using, supervising and policing the market to drive social changes and transformations.

Then, I would like to describe the current state of the incorporation and operation of digital media technologies in the aged care service sector. Specific attention will be given to the type of digital media that are currently being promoted to and even used in care delivering as well as in the broader service and support to older populations in China. By noting the key actors in the field and their relational networks I hope to evaluate how digital media support existing and has become a critical infrastructure for the formal and informal care of the older population.  

Finally, I intend to reflect on the conceptual implications of the digital-turn in China’s ageing governance and policy approach. I argue that such a transformation reveals the state’ ambition to experiment and test new modes of biopolitical governance through the technological possibilities of datafication, automated decision-making and optimisation.   


Speaker biography 

Wilfred Yang Wang is Lecturer in Media and Communications Studies at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on data and algorithmic governance, the biopolitics of ageing, diasporic media, digital geography and China. He is the author of the book, Digital Media in Urban China Locating Guangzhou (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2019). Wilfred’s recent projects focus on the datafication of biopolitical governance of ageing and population movements in China and Australia.


The Scottish Centre for China Research is grateful for the support of the MacFie Bequest for its seminar series.

For further information, contact Professor Jane Duckett <>

First published: 15 February 2024

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