Term of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3 Email


Committee Member 4

Isabel Nuñez

Committee Member 4 Email



This study explores contemporary Chinese urban youth culture through examining how media technologies such as the Internet empower contemporary Chinese urban youth. Using Douglas Kellner’s (1995) multiperspectival cultural studies, specifically cultural studies, critical theory, and critical media literacy, as both the theoretical and methodological framework, I explore the cultural identities of contemporary urban Chinese youth through closely reading the artifacts of Chinese Internet subcultures and indigenous and global influences on contemporary Chinese urban youth. Drawing upon the works of cultural studies theorists (Kellner,1995; Kahn & Kellner, 2004a, 2004b; Gramsci, 1971; Hall, 1977, 1980, 1992, 1993, 2007; Hebdige, 1979, McRobbie, 1991,1999, 2000, 2009; Jenkins, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, Dimitriadis, 2009, Kincheloe, 2001; Steinberg, 2006, 2011; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1997), I retrace the ideas of critical theory (Marcuse, 1964; Kellner, 1989, 2003a; Kincheloe & Mclaren, 1998; Kincheloe, 2008) and critical media literacy (Kellner, 1995; Share & Kellner, 2005, 2007) with a particular focus on three general themes, namely resistance, power relations, and consumerism. Using multiperspectival cultural studies as my methodological framework and diagnostic critique (Kellner, 1995, 2003b) and semiotics (Hall, 1980; Kellner, 1995; Hebdige, 1979; Barthes, 1972; Kristeva, 1969, 1980) as my analytical method, I analyze three Chinese Internet subcultural artifacts, namely A Bloody Case of a Steamed Bun, Cao Ni Ma, and Du Fu Is Busy. The power of multiperspectival cultural studies lies in its potentials to provide insights into the historical backgrounds of the production and dual meanings of the artifacts and its effects on readers and other artifacts, which provides a panoramic view of contemporary Chinese urban youth culture and creates new ways to explore its complexity from multiple perspectives.

Seven intertwined themes have emerged from my study: (1) Multiperspectival cultural studies, an interdisciplinary inquiry, helps explore contemporary Chinese urban youth culture from multiple perspectives. (2) Kellner’s diagnostic critique, an analytical method, helps explore historical backgrounds and complexity of cultural artifacts. (3) Alternative media creates space of empowerment for contemporary urban Chinese youth to express frustrations and dissatisfactions, to challenge social inequalities and injustices, and to create dreams and hopes for their future. (4) Recognizing intertexuality among cultural artifacts and subcultures creates possibilities for Chinese urban youth to invent more alternative media cultures that empower them to challenge dominations, perform their identities, and release their imagination for the future. (5) Using multilingualism in multiperspectival cultural studies prevents misunderstanding, misrepresentation, or underrepresentation of cultural texts and promotes linguistic and cultural diversity in a multicultural and multilingual world. (6) Chinese youth should be the change agent for the era but not be imprisoned by the era. (7) Understanding contradictions and trajectories of contemporary Chinese urban youth culture is the key to understanding contemporary Chinese youth.

As a contemporary Chinese urban youth and a multiperspectival cultural studies researcher, I argue that when serving as change agents for the era, contemporary Chinese urban youth need to obtain critical media literacy to become the change agent in contemporary China and to be the medium of cultural exchanges in the multicultural world. In order to best assist contemporary Chinese urban youth in expressing their voices, portraying their hopes, and performing their historical responsibilities as change agents, I sincerely hope more research will be done on the contemporary Chinese urban youth culture, especially its contradictions and trajectories, with the intent to shed light on more richly textured, nuanced, and satisfying insights into the relations between contemporary Chinese urban youth and media power in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual world.

Research Data and Supplementary Material