Creating Mediated Cosmopolitanism? Global Media Flows and the Beijing Youth

Tang, T. 2018. Creating Mediated Cosmopolitanism? Global Media Flows and the Beijing Youth. PhD thesis University of Westminster Communication and Media Research Institute

TitleCreating Mediated Cosmopolitanism? Global Media Flows and the Beijing Youth
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsTang, T.

This thesis aims to explore how the Chinese urban young generation experience different forms of cultural cosmopolitanism through the consumption of growing flows of de-territorialized media products – mainly, but not solely, US-led Western media products, including films and television programmes. It also examines how this generation is negotiating hybrid identities from the perspective of cultural cosmopolitanism, given their strong Chinese cultural influences and constant exposure and consumption of Western media products. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the research is designed to be an exploratory, though pioneering work, which also seeks a possible explanation as to what contributes to cultural cosmopolitanism. Drawing on a range of historical sources, the thesis throws light on the causes of cosmopolitanism within the Chinese context and relates it to stability and change in the social environment in China.
The empirical part of the research mainly draws from qualitative focus groups and in-depth interviews with 45 Beijing youths, aged between 18 and 30 years, based on the criteria of age, gender, occupation, class, local/non-local and overseas experience. According to the analysis of the data thus collected, the processes that Chinese urban youth engage in while consuming foreign media products are far more complicated than what might be explained as the consequences of globalization. They show different degrees of openness towards foreign - mainly US-led Western media – products and their main motives for consuming these are entertainment, and the fact that such media content is considered of better quality than what is available domestically. During the viewing of such content, it was observed that the youths more or less experience the process of ‘dialogic imagination’. The thesis argues that Chinese urban youth experience a unique form of cosmopolitanism, characterized by self-centered and strategic engagement with foreign media products, consistent with a pattern of openness that can be seen throughout Chinese history. Although cosmopolitan consciousness in a moral sense exists temporarily during the viewing of foreign media products, the thesis suggests, the consumption of such media has rather limited influence and therefore cannot lead to the kind of cosmopolitanism celebrated in Western discourses.

Publication dates
PublishedJan 2018

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