- Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Michael Keane
Chapter 7: Editor’s introduction
The concerns of scholars in Mainland China differ in several important respects from their counterparts in liberal democracies, where the focus is often on issues of cultural and creative labour, media ownership, gentrification, intellectual property and gender. In many ‘Western’ accounts the spectre of neoliberalism is raised as a counterpoint to polemics of the benefits of the ‘creative economy’ that emanate from government think tanks and ‘economic development’ bureau. While neoliberalism certainly has traction in the developed ‘liberal’ economies particularly in respect to the ‘creative industries’, it makes little sense to speak of neoliberalism in the People’s Republic of China, where the intervening ‘visible hand’ of the government in matters ‘cultural’ renders this imported term meaningless (Keane 2013; Nonini 2008). In addition, while issues of labour, gender and ownership are valid in China and likely to impact in the future, they hold less policy weight in China, where the government is tied to an explicit cultural development (wenhua jianshe) agenda. Government closely monitors, regulates, subsidizes and promotes certain forms of culture in China; it categorizes sectors as cultural industries: these range from film making, print media, book and magazine publishing, television, tourism, advertising services, performing troupes, and Chinese opera, to ceramics. Each of these sectors has different characteristics, consumers, markets and regulatory systems.
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