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.

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About Jing Wang

Professor Jing Wang, S. C. Fang Professor of Chinese Language and Culture, recently passed away at the age of 71. She was the founder and director of MIT New Media Action Lab and served as the Chair of the International Advisory Board for Creative Commons China. Wang is a recipient of the Overseas Distinguished Professor Award, given by China's Ministry of Education. She was also the founder and secretary-general of NGO2.0, a grassroots nonprofit organization based in Beijing and Shenzhen, specializing in ICT (Information Communication Technology) powered activism. Ford Foundation awarded her a twelve-year grant (2009-2021) to develop NGO2.0. Wang’s first book The Story of Stone (published in English and Japanese) won her the 1992 Joseph Levenson Prize for the “Best Book on Pre-Modern China,” awarded by the Association of Asian Studies. Her third single-authored book Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture came out in Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese translations. Her fourth single-authored book The Other Digital China: Nonconfrontational Activism on the Social Web was published by Harvard University Press in December 2019. One of Wang’s edited volumes (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. Professor Wang is currently working with a colleague in China to edit a volume on entertainment media and the future of content. Wang received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies of Harvard University, the National Humanities Center, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. Wang’s most recent research interests included entertainment media in China and the US, advertising and marketing, civic media and communication, social media action research, and nonprofit technology, with an area focus on the People’s Republic of China.

 
 

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