Meng YuFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Baotong Gu

Second Advisor

George Pullman

Third Advisor

Ashley J. Holmes


The paradigm of media-audience relation study has evolved from a media-centered approach to emphasizing the interaction between the two. However, the media-audience relation in China appears to be still hierarchical due to the totalitarian political environment. The rhetoric of Chinese media is described to propagandize collectivism and nationalism while minimizing audiences’ voices. However, this situation has been changing due to marketization, innovative technology, and evolving ideology. To more fully understand the changes in Chinese media, we should build a new paradigm of Chinese media audience relation study and investigate some typical cases that illustrate this change.

This dissertation uses qualitative case studies to exemplify how audiences shape the rhetoric of media in a hegemonic context. Using the rhetoric around the topic of Rio Olympic Games as an example, this study depicts some subtle changes in Chinese media through the lenses of ideology, marketization, technology, and entertainment.Each lens is based around a central case study illustrating the ways in which the interaction between audiences and media increase and evolve. This research finds marketization is the essential factor that leads the Chinese media toward a commercialized direction. The open market also brings a shift of ideology, from merely emphasizing nationalism and collectivism to a more liberal and humanistic approach. In addition, the concept of kairos expands as a result of innovative and disruptive technologies like the Web, text messaging, video streaming services, and some new features of applications on smartphones. The changing scope of kairos broadens the ways of interaction between audiences and media. At last, marketization and the convergence of media accelerate the explosion of entertainment media contents. However, “amusing ourselves to death” should not be the only end of Chinese media. This dissertation argues for discarding the totalitarian and consumerism dichotic view on Chinese media on favor of a more nuanced paradigm that combines ideology, marketization, technology, and entertainment perspectives.

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