Cultural fusion in the digital age: rock music scenes and its subcultural community in contemporary China

PhD Thesis


Jiang, M. 2018. Cultural fusion in the digital age: rock music scenes and its subcultural community in contemporary China. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Media, Art and Design
AuthorsJiang, M.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy
Abstract

This PhD thesis is concerned with understanding the social, political, and economic transformations within China and their impact upon Chinese popular music and youth culture in terms of ‘cultural fusion’. The study employs an interdisciplinary approach combining the academic fields: popular music studies, media and cultural studies, sociology, youth studies and social geography. The PhD addresses Simon Frith’s (Frith 1978, 1996) positioning of rock as an umbrella term, inclusive of a variety of music genres such as post-punk, alternative, indie, and post-rock. Through the notion of cultural fusion, the study seeks to illuminate the rise and decline of Chinese rock in the contexts of marketisation, globalisation and the rise of new media. It also explores how rock’s revival through social media shapes urban Chinese youth identities through these changes.

Ethnographic and textual research techniques are used in the thesis alongside autoethnography defining my research position as both a critical outsider and an insider of Chinese popular music. The data sets include analysis of rock magazines, documentaries, lyrics, interviews and observations with 80 research participants, who are musicians, critics, audiences and fans. In addition, the study employs content analysis and semiotics. Data has been collected in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Zibo. These research sites represent cultural diversity from different tiers of economically diverse cities in China. Data has also been collected in London, which is identified as a location offering cultural fusion as part of the music scene in Europe.

The thesis explores how rock music has become an expressive tool for Chinese youth to carve out space from realities and controls. It focuses on Chinese youth from a middle-class background and those who migrate to study in the UK. These Chinese youths participate in Western music scenes and bridge popular cultural exchange between the East and the West. The PhD also examines marginal voices and positions within Chinese rock subcultural communities. It suggests rock music articulates subcultural resistance to the structural inequalities of class, gender and ethnicity. The ethnographic data indicates a cultural fusion phenomenon between the East and the West within the music scene, characterised by dynamics and complexities. It symbolises struggles and conflicts for Chinese youth, who face an increasing commercialised and globalised Chinese society.

KeywordsChinese popular music; Youth culture; Cultural fusion
Year2018
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Deposited21 May 2020
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8v8yw/cultural-fusion-in-the-digital-age-rock-music-scenes-and-its-subcultural-community-in-contemporary-china

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