The politics of enjoyment: the media viewing preferences and practices of young higher-educated Chinese

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Wilson, Magnus
  • Subject: UOW10

This dissertation examines the widespread phenomenon of online film and DVD viewing that is now prevalent among university students in China. In doing so, it analyses how the social organisation of enjoyment among aspirational urban and educated youth relates to the Chinese political order as the country integrates into the global market economy. Using observation, interviews and written responses, supplemented by journalistic and online material collected „in the field? during 2006-2007 and 2010, the research centres on two comparatively neglected areas of Chinese studies: audience reception and foreign entertainment via largely non-regulated downloading and pirate DVDs. The dissertation shows how higher educated Chinese youth use their new semi-illicit media freedom to structure their own social and political attitudes and how in doing this they reassess certain established values of responsibility and morality and make them compatible with the adoption of new middle class aspirations learned and negotiated through their viewing of Chinese, and mainly foreign entertainment media. The research therefore aims to make a broader point about the character of China?s ongoing modernisation, and the role of the „foreign? within this, thereby breaking out of the impasse in which China is seen largely through the perspective of antagonism between the forces of control and those of freedom – a view that has tended to overshadow and oversimplify the field of Chinese studies, particularly since the 1989 political crisis.
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