Superdiversity on the Internet: A Case from China

Piia Varis and Xuan Wang

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The Internet is the superdiverse space par excellence – a space of seemingly endless possibilities for self-expression and community formation. Yet, online environments are not characterized only by happy heterogeneity: rather, we are able to see multiple layers of normativity in the form of self-, peer- and state-imposed norms. That is, though allowing for the continuous diversification of diversity, the Internet is also a space where diversity is controlled, ordered and curtailed. This paper illustrates these dynamics through an examination of a Beijing-based rapper and his online activities. What emerges from this investigation is a superdiverse as well as normative space where diversity is constrained by a complex of normative struggles, as new forms of meaning-making are accompanied with new systems of normativity. The driving force in such increasingly online normative processes is, instead of locality or localization, the quest for authenticity.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Varis, P. and Wang, X. Superdiversity on the Internet: A Case from China. Diversities. 2011, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. , UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595

About the Authors:

Piia Varis received her Ph.D. from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, in 2009 and is currently a post-doctoral researcher within the research group Transformations of the Public Sphere (TRAPS). p.k.varis(at)

Xuan Wang is currently a Ph.D. student and a member of the research group Language and Globalization. Her research focuses on sociolinguistic globalization in the periphery of China.

The authors are based at the Department of Culture Studies at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

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