Digital Transformation or New Digital Divide 2.0? Yiwu Lady Bosses Embracing MSC Technology to Survive the Pandemic

Chenxiang Elaine JI

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


With still a few research has investigated, academically, the influence of Mobile Social Commerce (MSC) on traditional micro-entrepreneurs’/micro-enterprises’ digital transformation. From a ‘society-technology mutual construction perspective’, this chapter explored how Yiwu International Trade City’s (YITC) Lady Bosses embraced MSC, Live-Steaming Commerce (LSC) in particular, in their business to survive the pandemic. Several key findings have been located based on Lady Bosses’ lived experiences. The pandemic outbreak brought both challenges and opportunities. In the hope of fighting the pandemic and recovering the economy, Lady Bosses actively embraced MSC technology and devoted themselves to facilitating work resumption by conducting both online and offline family business, meanwhile see for additional professional training. They not only experiencing digital enablement and dis-enablement, and also being exploited by the platforms and skills training institutions. It is easy for them to start a MSC entrepreneurship, but full of challenges to maintain it. Therewith, it concluded that Lady Bosses’ MSC entrepreneurial practices might give a false sense of individualised digital transformation or gendered empowerment. The truth is they are expected to obey the gendered divisions of labour and afford flexible, available, and reliable labour forces for the maintenance of overseas Business to business (B2B) and the expansion of domestic online businesses. In the end, this chapter makes two possible theoretical contributions. First, within the research context, it proposed an alternative definition of ‘new digital divide 2.0’. Second, it proposed an analytical framework inductively. Future and further studies are needed to enrich the framework and to verify its validity in other research contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCoping with COVID-19, the Mobile Way: Experience and Expertise from China
EditorsXiaoge Xu
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print) 9789811957864, 981195786X
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Mobile Social Commerce
  • Live Streaming Commerce
  • Fighting the Pandemic
  • Digital (dis-)enablement
  • New Digital Divide 2.0
  • Gendered Empowerment


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