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Resistance within Contexts:A Study of University BBS Youth Culture in China
Unformatted Document Text:  9 was not permitted to discuss. And four newsgroups in SMTH were closed because of this incident: military affairs, salon, martyr, and news. Now, the ‘news’ newsgroup has re-opened but is under strict control. From then on, BBSs become more entertainment-oriented than before. Various kinds of purely popular fashions in the era of consumerism become dominant, while something that is related with humanism is much less discussed there. These cases tell us that ideological control is still significant in contemporary China. Young people are the main objects for governmental inspection. Interestingly, at the same time, Chinese intellectuals who are supposed to be the “spiritual mentors” of the young people, changed their roles from critiques of governments to critiques of the ‘ideological crisis,’ caused by economic reform. This produced a paradoxical relationship between the intellectuals and the political regime. During the 1990s, the intellectual elites would join hands with the government in denouncing the ‘vulgarization’ of culture and the ‘pollution and corruption of the young mind’ by popular cultural products. But generally speaking, the liberal elites and the government are courting, in their different ways, multinational capitalism’s ‘high’ values (Liu 1997). Popular culture has become a new battleground on which the war of ‘power struggles for obtaining symbolic capital’ (Tao 1996) was conducted. That is, it is a fight for the ownership of discourse in the cultural and intellectual market. Some Chinese intellectuals publicly expressed their despising toward the popular culture (Li 1999). For example, Wang Yuechuan (2001: 80), a professor from Peking University, bemoans that ‘when the discourses (in our society) are dominated by commodification and cynicism, we intellectuals have already begun to lose our readers and audiences.’ Gradually, ‘cultural studies,’ or more precisely, ‘critical cultural studies,’ become a fashionable academic enterprise (Tao, Jin and Gao 2000). Intellectuals busied themselves with disclosing the utilitarian ideologies ‘sequestered’ or ‘concealed’ beneath commercial popular culture (Liu, 1998). A ‘crisis of faith’ ( ) among the younger generation becomes a critical concern for the intellectuals. Although some Chinese scholars do recognize the changing values, especially individualism, have their positive influence on China, many others responded negatively. They pointed to evidences of ‘moral decline’ or even ‘moral collapse’ ( ) among the younger generation. They relate young people’s activities or attitudes towards popular culture to ‘loss of values ( )’or ‘emptiness of meanings ( )’(Wang, 2001).

Authors: Dong, Dong.
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background image
9
was not permitted to discuss. And four newsgroups in SMTH were closed because of this
incident: military affairs, salon, martyr, and news. Now, the ‘news’ newsgroup has re-opened
but is under strict control. From then on, BBSs become more entertainment-oriented than
before. Various kinds of purely popular fashions in the era of consumerism become dominant,
while something that is related with humanism is much less discussed there.
These cases tell us that ideological control is still significant in contemporary China. Young
people are the main objects for governmental inspection. Interestingly, at the same time, Chinese
intellectuals who are supposed to be the “spiritual mentors” of the young people, changed their
roles from critiques of governments to critiques of the ‘ideological crisis,’ caused by economic
reform. This produced a paradoxical relationship between the intellectuals and the political regime.
During the 1990s, the intellectual elites would join hands with the government in denouncing the
‘vulgarization’ of culture and the ‘pollution and corruption of the young mind’ by popular cultural
products. But generally speaking, the liberal elites and the government are courting, in their
different ways, multinational capitalism’s ‘high’ values (Liu 1997). Popular culture has become a
new battleground on which the war of ‘power struggles for obtaining symbolic capital’ (Tao 1996)
was conducted. That is, it is a fight for the ownership of discourse in the cultural and intellectual
market.
Some Chinese intellectuals publicly expressed their despising toward the popular culture (Li
1999). For example, Wang Yuechuan (2001: 80), a professor from Peking University, bemoans that
‘when the discourses (in our society) are dominated by commodification and cynicism, we
intellectuals have already begun to lose our readers and audiences.’ Gradually, ‘cultural studies,’ or
more precisely, ‘critical cultural studies,’ become a fashionable academic enterprise (Tao, Jin and
Gao 2000). Intellectuals busied themselves with disclosing the utilitarian ideologies ‘sequestered’
or ‘concealed’ beneath commercial popular culture (Liu, 1998). A ‘crisis of faith’ (
)
among the younger generation becomes a critical concern for the intellectuals. Although some
Chinese scholars do recognize the changing values, especially individualism, have their positive
influence on China, many others responded negatively. They pointed to evidences of ‘moral
decline’ or even ‘moral collapse’ (
) among the younger generation. They relate young
people’s activities or attitudes towards popular culture to ‘loss of values (
)’or ‘emptiness
of meanings (
)’(Wang, 2001).


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