In the 1950s and 1960s, rural radio networks were erected all across China, operated and maintained by local residents who worked as technicians, correspondents, and broadcasters. This article introduces the radio network as a complex and diverse technological infrastructure for the socialist masses. The content of broadcasting was never uniform; rather, each county, town, village, and even the individual broadcaster had a say in what sounds came out of their loudspeakers. Accordingly, the Chinese socialist soundscape was not only peppered with quotation songs and political slogans but also contained music and traditional opera, useful information, and occasionally the relay of foreign radio stations. Radio networks brought people together as members and active builders of the new society. While the extant historiography understands the socialist masses as a political and social category, this article argues that it was also constructed as a technological one. The socialist citizenry was often defined by its involvement in state-led infrastructure projects such as the radio network; in turn, as people strove to build and run their own radio networks, they spontaneously took part in assembling and buttressing the infrastructure that underpinned the socialist state.

You do not currently have access to this content.