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From Communism to Nationalism: Chinaĺs Press in the Transition of Dominant Ideology

Abstract

This paper documents the shift of the dominant ideology in China from communism to the Party-led nationalism. Within a theoretical framework of media hegemony, this paper identifies the Party-led nationalism as a hegemonic ideology, which is constructed from the top to legitimate the ruling of the Party. This paper investigates how China’s press behaves during such transition of dominant ideology in past 20 years. In late 1970s, China’s press functioned as a site of top level faction warfare among Party elites with diverging ideologies and later some as an independent force participated in the ideological struggle in late 1980s. During recent commercialization, two modes of press have emerged in China: party propaganda press and commercialized press. China’s commercialized press, operating in a market system with a close Party supervision, in order to survive, first has to yield to the pressure from the Party and then from the market. In this sense, the press performs dual missions: “toeing the party line and making money” (He, 2003, p.201) by commercializing the Party-led nationalism. Repackaged patriotism thus becomes a good commodity for China’s commercialized press. Most press in China has been transformed from a propaganda apparatus to the current “Party publicity Inc”, which is perfectly fit into the media hegemony analysis of the media role in modern society to maintain the status quo. This paper also explores how China’s press profits anti-Western sentiment as a theme of nationalism in international news coverage and is highly hegemonic in promoting the anti-western theme.

Yong Cao

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