Children and television in China : a critical inquiry
Drawing on original research that I conducted in the People's Republic of China, this thesis argues for a critical approach to the study of children and television. It begins with a survey of previous literature in the area in order to locate my own study in its intellectual context. This is followed by critical reappraisals of the approaches developed by empiricist and interpretative studies, which identify their main problems and set the ground for the central theoretical argument for a critical approach. The third chapter is devoted to the exposition of the case for a critical inquiry, the gist of which is to link the micro with the macro levels of social life, and to link biography with history. In the case of this particular study, the task is to relate the situated activity of children's television viewing and parents' reaction to it, to the broader historical and cultural formations in Chinese society. The fourth chapter is an account of the evolution of children's television in China, tracing its movement from ideological indoctrination and intellectual education (from the late 1950s to the early 1980s) to the tendency towards commercialization (from the mid 1980s onwards). The following two chapters consist of the empirical core of the thesis. Chapter 5 is a general study of children's viewing activity, with particular attention being paid to tile modes through which Chinese parents attempt to execute control over their children's viewing. In the final chapter, the recent trend of commercialization of children's television is further explored by way of a case study of the craze for Transformers cartoon series and toy range in China and its relation to the rise of consumerism. The thesis concludes by indicating new lines of inquiry for future research on China opened up by this piece of work.