Why Does Media Marketization Reinforce Media Control in Post-Tiananmen China?: A Political Economic Theory of Media Control




He, Nanchu

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The current Chinese media political literature ascribes China’s effective media control to Communist Party censorship. Up until now, scholars and authors have overlooked how the enormous social and economic changes that China has undergone since economic reform has affected media control. This dissertation explores how such changes influence media control in China. It first examines the Chinese political economy and then focuses on studying China’s media, which has gone through considerable change since economic reform. Previously, Party ideological indoctrination and violent suppression were rampant. Today’s situation, however, could be characterized as indoctrination mingled with entertainment or “indoctritainment” (Sun 2002), and repression with an absence of full freedom of the media. I argue that “repressive state capitalism” has propelled economic development in China, particularly since 1989. In the reform era, repression coexists with economic development and is actually productive to Chinese economic growth because repression has both ensured state intervention in the economy and safeguarded a stable environment that is pivotal to the flourishing of economic activities. Using this political economic approach, I propose a political economic theory of “marketizing media control” to account for effective media control after media marketization, beginning with an empirical investigation of the traditional media and ending with an investigation of the new media in China. In short, repressive state capitalism is my contribution to political economic theory and marketizing media control is my contribution to Chinese media politics.



Repressive State capitalism, Marketizing media control