The dream of Chinese reality television
: ideological fantasy and contradiction in post-Mao China

  • Cheng Han

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research aims to examine the development of Western-originated reality television (RTV) within a socialist country which is adopting and adapting a capitalist economic system. By doing so, I intend to contribute to the limited amount of academic literature on Chinese TRV (CRTV) both in China and the Western world. The study looks at CRTV from the point of view of the government’s regulations, public’s reactions to the programmes, and interviews with television viewers. It also analyses the programmes themselves. Areas focused upon within the study were the programmes regulated by the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, such as game shows, talent shows and dating shows, and a social experiment show praised by the public and the government. The Exchange Programme.

    The contradiction and struggle between the market and socialist ideology was explored through the study of CRTV. CRTV becomes a site demonstrating that the market threatens the state’s sovereignty, and reveals the social and moral crisis induced by the market. The originality of this study is to observe how the market is both legitimised and resisted by the government and socialist ideology in post-Mao China. For Slavoj Zizek, the market is ‘a For-itself of ideology at work in the very In-itself of extra-ideological actuality’ (1994a:14). This notion of the market prompts me to ask if the socialist ideology is an ideology in-and -for itself as well. Therefore, I analyse how the socialist ideology operates in CRTV through the hegemonic struggle, the common-sense assertion at the level of consciousness, and also retroactively trace what had been overlooked unconscious fantasy. My research can be seen as a test conducted to validate Zizek’s work in the Chinese context. The revealed countryside fantasy as a resisting force, continues the struggle between socialism and neoliberalism at the level of the unconscious.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorGary Hall (Supervisor) & Val Hill (Supervisor)

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