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Resistance within Contexts:A Study of University BBS Youth Culture in China
Unformatted Document Text:  3 subordinated. Rather, using Foucault’s (1980) proposition that there cannot be power relations without resistances, and that resistances are real and effective because they are formed at the point where power relations are exercised, resistances take place on many levels and in many forms, including youth culture and its style. Both ‘oppression’ and ‘resistance to oppression’ are part of the same discursive formation constituted by the regime of power (Best 1998: 26), thus the argument of subcultural resistance is not premised upon an inferior status of a youth culture. However, the seemingly equal status of diverse cultures does not mean equalities among people within the cultures. Power distribution among the people who participate in different cultural practices can never be balanced because of the unbalanced distributions of cultural, social, economic, and political capitals in our societies. All these capitals, just like Bourdieu’s argument (1984) on cultural capital, are the linchpins of systems of distinctions built hierarchically. The hierarchical distribution of cultural capital provides us an entry point to explore the question of resistance. Thus the general question of resistance can be constructed as a more specific one: who take what kind of forms in which place under what circumstance to resist whom or what? Resistance must be regarded as something that can be effective in one instance but not another (Best 1998: 24). As Hall (1996b) argues, resistance is constituted by repertoires whose meanings are specific to particular times, places and social relationships. That means resistance is not universal or fixed but conjunctural. In other words, it is historically and contextually specific. Therefore, in analyzing resistance of youth culture, we have to make clear the conditions under which resistance becomes possible and effective. Participants of a culture are located within contexts that determine the consequences of their cultural practices. Conventionally, studies on youth culture often concentrate on the context defined at the macro-level. That is, they usually refer to the most general historical, social, cultural, political, and economic contours of the period under consideration. However, youths’ activities exist in more immediate settings – schools, workplaces, homes, cyberspace, etc. Therefore, besides the general sociocultural context, I will also analyze the ‘institutional’ and ‘cyber-cultural’ 2 contexts when theorizing the university BBS youth culture in China. By institutional context I refer to the organizational situations in which discourses are actually created and disseminated. Within this context the producers of a certain culture gain access to 2 I name the cyberspatial environment ‘cyber-cultural context’ in echoing the frequently used term ‘sociocultural context’

Authors: Dong, Dong.
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subordinated. Rather, using Foucault’s (1980) proposition that there cannot be power relations
without resistances, and that resistances are real and effective because they are formed at the point
where power relations are exercised, resistances take place on many levels and in many forms,
including youth culture and its style. Both ‘oppression’ and ‘resistance to oppression’ are part of
the same discursive formation constituted by the regime of power (Best 1998: 26), thus the
argument of subcultural resistance is not premised upon an inferior status of a youth culture.
However, the seemingly equal status of diverse cultures does not mean equalities among
people within the cultures. Power distribution among the people who participate in different
cultural practices can never be balanced because of the unbalanced distributions of cultural, social,
economic, and political capitals in our societies. All these capitals, just like Bourdieu’s argument
(1984) on cultural capital, are the linchpins of systems of distinctions built hierarchically. The
hierarchical distribution of cultural capital provides us an entry point to explore the question of
resistance. Thus the general question of resistance can be constructed as a more specific one: who
take what kind of forms in which place under what circumstance to resist whom or what?
Resistance must be regarded as something that can be effective in one instance but not
another (Best 1998: 24). As Hall (1996b) argues, resistance is constituted by repertoires whose
meanings are specific to particular times, places and social relationships. That means resistance is
not universal or fixed but conjunctural. In other words, it is historically and contextually specific.
Therefore, in analyzing resistance of youth culture, we have to make clear the conditions under
which resistance becomes possible and effective.
Participants of a culture are located within contexts that determine the consequences of their
cultural practices. Conventionally, studies on youth culture often concentrate on the context
defined at the macro-level. That is, they usually refer to the most general historical, social, cultural,
political, and economic contours of the period under consideration. However, youths’ activities
exist in more immediate settings – schools, workplaces, homes, cyberspace, etc. Therefore, besides
the general sociocultural context, I will also analyze the ‘institutional’ and ‘cyber-cultural’
2
contexts when theorizing the university BBS youth culture in China.
By institutional context I refer to the organizational situations in which discourses are actually
created and disseminated. Within this context the producers of a certain culture gain access to
2
I name the cyberspatial environment ‘cyber-cultural context’ in echoing the frequently used term ‘sociocultural
context’


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