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Understanding the Cultural Industries from the Perspective of Chinese Modernity

Sat, June 25, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 104


The rise of cultural industries in China has implications beyond the strictly cultural sphere. It is a key force in the shaping of contemporary Chinese economy, politics and society. From a historical view, this paper explores the role of culture in Chinese society – from May the Fourth New Culture Movement, through the Cultural Revolution and upto the rise of reflexive cultural self-criticism, Chinese cultural movements have always served as the indicator for wider social and political transformation. This paper applies the theorization of the relationship between ‘cultural modernity’ and ‘societal modernity’ by Habermas in understanding the complexity of Chinese modernity. It argues that modernity has multiple meanings and should not be equated to ‘Western modernity’ (this concept of ‘multiple maternities’ was first coined by S. N. Eisenstadt). Based on this understanding, it discusses the due presence of ‘cultural modernity’ and ‘material modernity’ exhibited in the development of cultural industries in the country. From the clear separation of cultural affairs and cultural industries, to their mutual influence, this paper emphasizes the ‘alternative’ nature of Chinese modernization.