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TIAN Xiaoli | Fantasy is More Believable: Justice and solidarity in Chinese online fiction

Release Date: 2017/8/11 10:18:19

 

Theme:

Fantasy is More Believable: Justice and solidarity

 in Chinese online fiction

Lecturer:TIAN Xiaoli | University of Hongkong
Date & Time:9:30-11:00, Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Venue:Room 304, Building 4, Zhijiang Campus, Zhejiang University

Does the civil sphere exist in a modernizing society with an authoritative state? To explore this question, this paper uses online observations, interviews with online fiction writers and readers, and content analysis of selected popular works of online fiction, to examine the puzzling phenomenon of the popularity of online fantasy fiction in contemporary China. I argue that living in a society that stresses individual efforts and success in a market economy, but in an increasingly crystalized class structure in which social justice difficult to achieve in reality, Chinese users of literary websites have created fantasy worlds online that are meritocratic and which operate according to certain principles of justice. Such creations compensate, in turn, for their experienced lack of power and control in the real world. Moreover, consumers of such fiction are able to build solidarity by reinforcing some of the commonly held values online and interacting with other readers and writers on the literary websites. When it is difficult for social institutions to sustain the civil sphere, people thus turn to the imaginary for civil spirit and civil repair in fictional worlds. In practice, these fictional worlds are far from ideal, however, because they are still embedded in cultural and social structures. In the Chinese case, while the morality of online fiction resists the unfairness of social reality, it nevertheless recapitulates the values of individual effort and self-achievement that are endemic to the market economy. The key features of the civil sphere, such as caring about others and universalistic solidarity, still warrant much improvement in contemporary China.

 

TIAN Xiaoli | Fantasy is More Believable: Justice and solidarity in Chinese online fictionAssistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. Ph.D. from Department of Sociology, The University of Chicago.

Research Interest: How preexisting knowledge paradigms and cultural norms influence the way people respond to unexpected transformations of their everyday routines.

Works: Writings published in American Journal of Sociology; Modern China; Information, Communication and Society ,etc. 

TIAN Xiaoli | Fantasy is More Believable: Justice and solidarity in Chinese online fiction

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