Youth Culture, Music, and Cell Phone Branding in China

This article tracks the relationship between music and youth culture in China in the context of transnational cell phone branding. A research project conducted by the author as a participant observer/temporary marketing researcher at the Beijing office of transnational advertising agency Ogilvy is used to explore a primary academic concern: in what terms should we understand the relationship between music, youth culture, and cool culture in metropolitan China? The article examines the place of music in an emerging brand-conscious youth culture in China and examines what this means for the single-child generation. It questions the assumption that there is a simple equation between cool youth and cool music and concludes by placing the discussion in the context of musical subcultures and musical tribal cultures in China.


Jing Wang

About Jing Wang

Professor Jing Wang is the founder and director of MIT New Media Action Lab and serves as the Chair of the International Advisory Board for Creative Commons China. She holds a joint appointment in Global Studies & Languages and Comparative Media Studies/Writing. Her first book The Story of Stone won her the 1992 Joseph Levenson Prize for the “Best Book on Pre-Modern China.” Her third single-authored book Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture came out in Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese translations. Her edited volume (with Winnie Wong) "Reconsidering the 2006 MIT Visualizing Cultures Controversy" won the Council of Editors of Learned Journal's "Best Special Issue Award" in 2015. She is currently working on a book manuscript "Activism 2.0 and Nonconfrontational Politics in China." In spring 2009, she launched NGO 2.0, a nonprofit organization that specializes in ICT powered activism. Ford Foundation awarded her an eight-year grant (2009-2017) to develop NGO2.0. A new book INTERNET PLUS PUBLIC GOOD: PLAYING WITH NEW MEDIA was published in 2016. Wang’s current research interests include advertising and marketing, civic media and communication, social media action research, popular culture, and nonprofit technology, with an area focus on the People’s Republic of China.


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