Mediated neoliberalisation: the production and reception of new countryside dramas in China

Yan, Ran (2020). Mediated neoliberalisation: the production and reception of new countryside dramas in China. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the production and reception of New Countryside TV dramas in China using the theory of neoliberalisation. A review of the current academic debates on neoliberalism, actually existing neoliberalism and China’s neoliberalisation indicates that neoliberalism is not a static, singular, and rigidly imposed global experimentation. Rather, it is an ongoing project that is mediated by inherited social and institutional structures. Using neoliberalism as an analytical device, this thesis focuses on illustrating how China’s neoliberal transformation intersects with China’s media reform process. The communication event of New Countryside TV dramas was selected as the case to explain how the Chinese mass media reproduce and legitimate the Chinese state’s rural neoliberal transformation agenda. By examining data collected from documents, archives and semi-structured interviews, this thesis argues that China’s neoliberalisation is a state- led, media-mediated process. The state plays a dual role, creating the macro development plan for the country and guiding the mass media to endorse the policies it releases in order to win broad social support. The state influences the activities of the marketised mass media sector in two ways. Firstly, it has developed a complicated set of administrative strategies, which combine institutional regulation, financial subsidies, tax policies, market monopoly, party endorsement, etc., to encourage the media industry to produce more products that are consistent with the Socialist New Countryside Construction policy. Secondly, the state uses media reform to form new drama production organisations, and thereby changes the work routines that media professionals follow. The two new patterns of drama production make media professionals more willing to insert more New Countryside Construction Policy-related elements into drama narratives. The state thus can make its New Countryside Construction Policy known to more villagers. The fieldwork in two types of Northern villages reveals that while the New Countryside dramas can effectively increase poorer peasants’ entrepreneurship in the economic sense, in both villages, they are unable to enhance peasants’ identification with the party and the state in the political sense. Therefore, if neoliberalism is a governmentality which aims to cultivate subjects who are entrepreneurial in the economic sense and governable in the political sense, New Countryside TV dramas are only able to achieve half of this goal. In conclusion, by examining the institutional environment, the production process and the reception of New Countryside TV dramas, this thesis contributes to the discussions on how neoliberalism is being articulated with local inherited political and social processes during the current social transformation in China.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: China Scholarship Council
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism


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