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Political economy of Chinese television advertising

Zixu Liu, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study begins with an investigation of the basic elements of television advertising in China: its institution, content, and audience. Then, drawing upon the distinction made in Chinese television advertising between the working class and what I call the "watching class," I argue that advertising in contemporary China is fundamentally an ideological apparatus, which educates not only for new life styles but also for a new social order. For that reason, it must be looked at as an act of the political, which is a concept that has not been clearly defined in the existing literature of political economy of communication. Shifting the focus towards the very existence of advertising, I examine the political and ideological conditions that have made advertising possible in contemporary China, and look at the abstract idea of advertising as an act of hospitality towards capitalism. What Chinese television advertising reveals is the process in which a socialist system hosts capitalism and by so doing becomes its hostage, subsumed and eventually replaced by it. The banal and self-deceptive critique of the so called "communist" authoritarianism of China therefore must be replaced with a genuine critique of capitalist authoritarianism. Keywords: China, television advertising, political economy, ideology, social transformation.

Subject Area

Marketing|Mass communications

Recommended Citation

Liu, Zixu, "Political economy of Chinese television advertising" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379981.