Dancing with chains: Significant moments on China Central Television
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The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 10 (2) pp. 187-204, 2007 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © SAGE Publications
More than a decade after television became the medium of mass consumption in the West, Raymond Williams published Television: Technology and Cultural Form in 1974. Raymond Williams is interested in television not as the outcome of an isolated aesthetic adventure or technological triumph, but as the manifestation of a profoundly social process. Television arrived in China initially as both metonym and metaphor for the state’s socialist modernity, but has now also become a symptom of the triumph of global capitalism. In what way can Williams’s insights on television technology and social change be revisited and made meaningful to the socio-economic specificity of China in the reform era? By looking at some significant moments on China Central Television in the era of economic reforms since the 1980s, this paper offers an account of the ways in which television as a form of technology plays a crucial role in the various junctures of China’s social formations. In doing so, I seek to unravel the tension and dynamism between the creative and innovative impulse of television technology as an industry, the desire of the Chinese state for hegemonic control, and the naked ambition of the global economy ushered in by the Chinese state.
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