A cultural study on communication and technology with specific reference to media in China

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Cuffe, James Bartholomew
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University College Cork
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This dissertation examines the role of communications technology in social change. It examines secondary data on contemporary China arguing that many interpretations of events in China are unsuitable at best and at worst conceptually damages our understanding of social change in China. This is especially the case in media studies under the ‘democratic framework’. It proposes that there is an alternative framework in studying the media and social change. This alternative conceptual framework is termed a zone of interpretative development offering a means by which to discuss events that take place in a mediated environment. Taking a theoretical foundation using the philosophy of Mikhail Bakhtin this dissertation develops a platform with which to understand communication technology from an anthropological perspective. Three media events from contemporary China are examined. The first examines the Democracy Wall event and the implications of using a public sphere framework. The second case examines the phenomenon of the Grass Mud Horse, a symbol that has gained popular purchase as a humorous expression of political dissatisfaction and develops the problems seen in the first case but with some solutions. Using a modification of Lev Vygotskiĭ’s zone of proximal development this symbol is understood as an expression of the collective recognition of a shared experience. In the second example from the popular TV talent show contests in China further expressions of collective experience are introduced. With the evidence from these media events in contemporary China this dissertation proposes that we can understand certain modes of communication as occurring in a zone of interpretative development. This proposed anthropological feature of social change via communication and technology can fruitfully describe meaning-formation in society via the expression and recognition of shared experiences.
China , Communication , Technology , Social change , Media
Cuffe, J. B. 2014. A cultural study on communication and technology with specific reference to media in China. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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