When it comes to video-mediated communication, existent research primarily focuses on camgirls (Senft, 2008) and most lately, gaming and ordinary life livestreaming (Hamilton, Garretson & Kerne, 2014; Tylor, 2018). However, livestreaming situation is undergoing massive changes as e-commerce companies in China are greatly capitalizing on livestreaming to promote online shopping. In 2018, livestreaming ecommerce generated over 100 billion RMB ($14 billion) in transactions on Taobao (Taobangdan & Taobao, 2019), Alibaba’s premier C2C ecommerce marketplace in China. For Single’s Day (11 November) 2019, Taobao received 20 billion RMB ($2.9 billion) revenues through its livestreaming platforms, and livestream stars such as Viya Huang and Austin Li reached celebrity status as millions of fans watched their livestreaming sessions (Topklout, 2019). Such trend of integrating e-commerce with livestreaming is going global too. Alibaba has brought the practice to Russia and Southeast Asia, such as Japan and South Korea. In the United States, Amazon and Wayfair are using livestream sessions to draw in their customers too. Most lately, the French luxious brand Luis Vuitton had its first livestreaming debut in China and garnered over 152,000 views.
As opposed to the exponential growth of e-commerce livestreaming, there is very limited research investigating the communication of this new media genre, i.e., online e-commerce livestreaming. Such a research gap arises from two possible reasons—the novelty of e-commerce livestreaming as a phenomenon and the lack of analytical entry point (Recktenwald, 2017). Setting itself against limited research in the regard of e-commerce livestreaming, this project concentrates on exploring the discourse in e-commerce online livestreaming in China and seeks to answer the following research questions.
- What political economic structure is at play of e-commerce live-streamers’ online discourse?
- How political economic structure is embodied in their online discourse?
- What discursive strategies do they draw on to persuade consuming behaviors?
- How do they impact audiences' ideologies?
In exploring these research questions, I aim to a) explore how traditional discourse analysis can be applied in video-mediated communications where oral and written narratives, images, and videos are present (Recktenwald, 2017); and b) understand how post-feminist ideologies are reflected in the highly digitalized and networked economy of contemporary China.
Research data comprises of three sources: a) prior research on influencers economy in China; b) e-commerce livestreaming videos, and c) semi-structured interviews with live-streamers, their audience and employees from e-commerce livestreaming platforms.
In interpreting the influence and embodiment of consumerist and capitalist culture, we will rely on discourse analysis as according to Foucault (2002, 1982), discourse reflects reality. In the process of using discourse analysis to reveal China’s particular socio-economic as well as socio-cultural status quo, we also aim to find the discursive strategies used in the persuasive communication of e-commerce livestreaming. Data gathered from semi-structured interviews with live-streamers, their audience and employees from e-commerce livestreaming platforms are to contribute to deeper understanding the reasons and influences of particular discourse that e-commerce live-streamers.
Foucault, M. (2002). The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge
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Hamilton, W. A., Garretson, O., & Kerne, A. (2014). Streaming on twitch: fostering participatory communities of play within live mixed media. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1315-1324).
Recktenwald, D. (2017). Toward a transcription and analysis of live streaming on Twitch. Journal of Pragmatics, 115, 68-81.
Senft, T. M. (2008). Camgirls: Celebrity and community in the age of social networks. Peter Lang.
Taobangdan & Taobao. (2019). Ecological Development of Taobao Online Streaming in 2019. Retrieved from https://dy.163.com/v2/article/detail/EM0OFPVM0514BOS2.html
Taylor, T. L. (2018). Watch me play: Twitch and the rise of game live streaming. Princeton University Press.
Topklout. (2019). Report of the Business Performance of E-commerce Live Streamers on the Single’s Day 2019. Retrieved from http://www.sh-zhonghuan.com/static/upload/file/20200206/1581000230825696.pdf