Existing studies on digital media and labor seldom pay attention to youth in vocational education (VE), nor do they consider the use of and attitudes towards digital media in connection with labor subjectivity. This research fills the gap by exploring how patterns of digital communication relate to each other in exerting influence on labor knowledge and attitudes in the setting of a vocational school. We present findings from a unique survey dataset (N = 1761) collected in Shaanxi, China. Aided by fieldwork, interviews, and observations of online discussions among students, we constructed reliable composite variables for behavioral and attitudinal patterns of digital communication and found that (a) participation in online forum discussion enhances labor-rights knowledge and predicts more consumerist usage of WeChat, but it does not encourage more reflections on gaming or achieve more labor-related attitudes; (b) reflective attitudes does not increase labor knowledge, but it is positively correlated with work-related attitudes; (c) there is no significant relationship between consumerist usage on the one hand and labor knowledge or attitudes on the other; and (d) labor knowledge indeed helps enhance labor attitudes. Contributions and implications of these findings are discussed.
Bibliographical noteThis work was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China [grant number C5010-15G].
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- Digital media
- consumerist use
- reflective attitudes
- vocational education (VE)