Dissertation
Dissertation > Culture, science,education, sports > Information and knowledge dissemination > Information and communication theory > Communication Theory

A Study on China’s Media Culture in Consumer Era

Author DongTianCe
Tutor CaoShunQing
School Sichuan University
Course Literature and Art
Keywords contemporary China consumer Era media culture cultural studies
CLC G206
Type PhD thesis
Year 2006
Downloads 2192
Quotes 13
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Since late 1980s and especially since early 1990s, China has rapidly evolved into the era of consumption driven by the carrying out of reform and open policy, globalization and the establishment of market economy. The society and culture have been seeing historic changes, which in turn bring significant changes to media culture. Therefore, to clearly understand and clarify the change and impact of China’s media culture in consumer Era is of great significance for the research of media culture.Studies on media culture in China originated in 1990s. Since mid 1990s, such Chinese counterparts of "Media Culture" as "传媒文化", "媒介文化", "媒体文化"have become key words of numerous Chinese theses on media culture. However, the studies in the first years were no more than "tag adding", which means simply introducing the concept of media culture without understanding what media culture is and how the corresponding study should be conducted. This situation remained unchanged until 1999 when Xian Zhou and Jun Xu published "Translation Series on Culture and Communication, General Preface", in which they made the preliminary definition of media culture. Some progress in media culture research has been made since the new century arrived. A few books on media culture by foreign scholars were translated into Chinese and published, and some Chinese researchers started publishing their works and quite a few theses on this subject came out. But except few of them with noticeable academic value, most of those studies were limited to infant stage of introducing theories of Western culture criticism and researches to media culture study and failed to make any break-through.This dissertation aims to provide a thorough and deep study on the change and impact of China’s media culture in the consumer Era by carefully analyzing, criticizing and referring to the results of existing studies on media culture and related areas while complying with the principle of setting appropriate context in culture research. Three chapters are included in this dissertation.Titled as "consumer society, consumer culture and media culture", the first chapter puts an emphasis on leading logic of consumer society with a complete discussion on the origination and characteristics of Western consumer society based on the theory by Jean Baudrillard. The consumer culture, which was gradually cultivated during the modernization or capitalization of Western society, has become the dominant ideology in Western countries since the 20th century and especially World War II. As a matter of fact, Baudrilard’s symbolistic analysis on consumer society is the same as the analysis on consumer culture. This chapter also discusses the shaping and developing of consumer culture, clarifies the different definitions of consumer culture by domestic scholars, and points out that consumer culture is virtually culture of consumerism. Based on the discussion above, this chapter clarifies the concept of media culture and the distinction of this concept in narrow and broad sense. The latter is of bigger academic significance. After analyzing and clarifying the difference and relations between media cultures and other culture forms like mass culture and consumer culture, this chapter concludes that macro and general research on media culture is virtually a research on ideology, laying the solid theoretical foundation for the further research on China’s media culture in consumer Era..As its title indicates, the second chapter thoroughly discusses the change of China’s media culture in consumer Era with an overview of the progress of China’s contemporary media culture. Prior to entering consumer Era, China’s media culture passed two stages. The first one is from the foundation of People’s Republic of China in 1949 to 1978 and especially from 1957 to the Great Culture Revolution, during which media became the tool of the extieme Leftism and the mouthpiece of the ideology. The second stage is from 1978 to late 1980s, during which media acted as both the propaganda machine of reform and open policy and the communication instrument for elite in pursuit of modern enlightenment. At the same time, mass culture of contemporary China, exhibited as popular culture, was developing in a unnoticeable manner. After entering consumer Era, mass culture experienced two stages. One is from late 1980s to early 1990s, during which popular culture grew dramatically. The other one is from mid 1990s to present, during which consumer culture expanded to media area and became the leading power of the development of media culture. Due to the intrinsic difference on the spirits of mass culture in the two stages, mass culture in contemporary China actually contains two different culture forms, which are popular culture and consumer culture. This distinction is well demonstrated by the evolution of popular culture and characteristics of consumer culture.The third chapter is titled as "the impact brought by the change of China’s media culture in consumer Era". This chapter makes it clear that the prosperity of mass culture in contemporary China changes the internal structure of media culture and brings the co-existence of leading/mainstream culture, elite culture and mass culture. These culture forms are essentially differentiated by ideology instead of text and their relations are embodied by dialogue and interaction with each other. Mass culture expands continuously and elite culture continues to be marginalized. As a result, elite culture keeps fiercely criticizing mass culture and hence promotes the development of culture research. However, there are serious drawbacks in the criticism of mass culture caused by simply copying theories of Frankfurt School as well as mistakenly setting the context of China’s mass culture, and a reconsideration of the criticism is needed. This chapter clarifies the concept of context and the principle of making culture research in a certain context, and deeply analyzes the social and cultural context of contemporary China from three respects including the reform and opening, loosened ideology control, society transformation, secularization, globalization and post-modernization. Based on the discussion, this chapter summarizes the impact of the development of mass culture in contemporary China as following three aspects: the break-down of monopoly of ideology and the liberalization of thinking; establishment of new cultural space to match the society transformation; creation of new cultural issues eroding modernization. Therefore, the research on mass culture in contemporary China should be conducted by cases and the popular culture and consumer culture should be treated in different ways.In the discussions above, this dissertation provides deep analysis on all the issues under consideration, not only offering the author’s novel findings and creative thinking but also probing into the related concepts, theories, contexts and their relations with the clarification of many ambiguous or confusing points. Thus, this dissertation will deepen the research on this subject.

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