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Social Sciences | The Little Emperors’ New Toys - A Critical Inquiry into Children and Television in China

The Little Emperors’ New Toys

A Critical Inquiry into Children and Television in China

Zhao, Bin

2013, XIX, 130 p.

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  • Original research conducted at a significant turning point in history
  • Theoretical and methodological breakthrough in the study of children and television
  •  Important firsthand record of the rise of commercial television and consumerism in China​

Drawing on original research I conducted in the late 1980s, the book argues for a critical approach to the study of children and television. It begins with critical reappraisals of previous empiricist and interpretative studies to set the ground for a different theoretical inquiry which links biography with history. The situated activity of children’s television viewing therefore has to be related to the broader historical and cultural formations in post-Mao China.  By way of a methodological  pluralism of questionnaire survey,  in-depth interviews and observation, the book provides the reader with a thorough critical analysis of the rise of the new commercial ethic in Chinese society in general, and in the sector of media and communications in particular, at the very historical turning point of the late 1980s. Soon after that, Deng Xiaoping made his significant tour to south China, reckoning  a big step forward towards further liberalization and started to form a brave new world in China ever since.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Children - China - Commercialization - Critical Inquiry - Television

Related subjects » Social Sciences

Table of contents 

1. Introduction: In the Name of Modernisation.- 2. Children and Television: Public Concern and Scientific Research.- Roots of Concern.- Television and Change: Before and After.- Windows of Vulnerability.- The Home and the School.- Taking Children Seriously: the Interpretative Turn.- Towards a Critical Perspective.- 3. Positivist Approach and Interpretative Alternative: Critical Reappraisals.- Childhood: Controversies in Conceptualization.- Positivist Approach: an Instrument of Control?.- Interpretative Alternative: a New Empiricist Ethos?.- 4. Critical Approach to the Study of Children and Television.- The Individual and the Society: the Search for Links.- Critical Inquiry and the Study of Children and Television in China.- 5. Children’s Television in China: From Education to Entertainment.- Mass media as Mouthpiece.- The Changing Television Broadcasting System.- Children’s Television: 1959-1990.- 6. Intellectual and moral Education: Parental Control and Children’s Viewing Activity.- Parental Control and Children’s Media Activity: a Historical Sketch.- Parental Control and Children’s Viewing: the Chinese Case.- For a Critical Analysis of the Chinese Case.- 7. The Craze for the Transformers: Children’s Television and the Rise of Consumerism in China.- The New Ethic of Market and Consumption.- The Transformers Fad and Reactions to It.- Beyond the Fad and the Debate.- Conclusion.

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