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From revolutionary culture to popular culture: Chinese literature and television 1987-1991

Wang, Yi (1996) From revolutionary culture to popular culture: Chinese literature and television 1987-1991. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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For over forty years since 1949, the People's Republic of China adapted to a unified and homogeneous "revolutionary cultural" identity that was deeply inscribed with communism and socialist ideals, which was located in a fixed relationship to the culture of the past and the culture of the West. The emergence of an elite culture in the 1980s and then a popular culture in the 1990s were significant historical breakthroughs. It not only highlighted the changes in the co-existence of different cultural domains but also, more significantly, provided sites for new discourses of elite culture and popular culture.

This study argues that China's cultural identity has become an arena of multiple identities rather than a singular subjectivity. In terms of contemporary cultural value and authority, and their relation to social power, there are at least three distinct cultural spheres representing different cultural forces in the national community: elite culture, popular culture and official culture. This new division in the contemporary cultural field not only deconstructs the powerful single, unified "revolutionary Chinese culture", but also reflects and generates conflicts of value and belief as between the Chinese authorities, intellectuals and ordinary people; more than that, it urges a renegotiation of contemporary Chinese cultural (and national) identity and China's official cultural policy.

Therefore, whether the blend of the three cultures - elite culture, popular culture and official culture - can co-exist harmoniously in future with an encroaching "Western" and "modern" culture is a question with no answer yet. It is possible that if the open policy and reforms of the past decade which have made possible such a variety of China's cultural life continue, China, facing the age of popular culture in the 21st century, will gradually move towards the global order of communication, towards cultural heterogeneity, if not fragmentation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Goodman, David, Ang, Ien, Wright, Tim, Birch, David, Hooper, Beverley and Jacka, Tamara
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