Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in China
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Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in China

Edited by Michael Keane

China is at the crux of reforming, professionalising, and internationalising its cultural and creative industries. These industries are at the forefront of China’s move towards the status of a developed country. In this comprehensive Handbook, international experts including leading Mainland scholars examine the background to China’s cultural and creative industries as well as the challenges ahead. The chapters represent the cutting-edge of scholarship, setting out the future directions of culture, creativity and innovation in China. Combining interdisciplinary approaches with contemporary social and economic theory, the contributors examine developments in art, cultural tourism, urbanism, digital media, e-commerce, fashion and architectural design, publishing, film, television, animation, documentary, music and festivals.
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Chapter 22: China’s self-help industry: American(ized) life advice in China

Eric C. Hendriks


During the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to monopolize the field of life advice in order to ensure that people’s imagination, values and aspirations would be wholly socialist. The Party disseminated an official literature on how a good socialist was supposed to live. Socialist life advice was meant to replace the life advice of China’s religious and philosophical traditions. Meanwhile, capitalist ideology was to be blocked out completely. To the Maoists, American self-help books – from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) to Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) – were squarely in the capitalist category. Hence they were banned. When Deng’s reformist faction gradually opened China’s economy and society, the Party’s attempt to monopolize life advice quickly faded. The destruction of the Cultural Revolution, followed by the implosion of Maoist socialism, left an ideological and spiritual hole in the heart of Chinese culture (Bell 2008; Gittings 2005). The public sphere, though still strictly monitored by the Party-state, opened up to alternative, non-socialist sources of life advice once again. Confucianism resurfaced in the 1990s and early 2000s (Bell 2008; Billioud and Thoraval 2008, 2009; Yang 2007). Further diversifying the field of life advice were the new international competitors carried in by the global popular culture that began flooding China.

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