Discursive Construction of Chinese Women: Exploring the Multi-perception Discourses of the Reality Show Sisters Who Make Waves 

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för informatik och media

Abstract: This study explores the discursive construction of Chinese women in the Chinese reality show Sisters Who Make Waves, with a special focus on the discursive shifts and their relevance to the wider discourse of and about Chinese women. The analysis is carried out on two levels: the discursive construction of Chinese women in the said reality show and its recontextualisation across other discourses including in the public sphere and semi-private opinions of Chinese women.  This research discusses the discursive construction of Chinese women in the Chinese media field and the discrepancy between “top-down” and “bottom-up” discourse. The project uses a multi-layer theoretical framework situated in media and society, gender and media representation, celebrity culture and digital labour to explore the discursive construction of Chinese women. The study applies to the reality show as the primary context, media perceptions as the recontextualising context, interviews with female employees in the Chinese internet industry as the secondary context. In order to investigate the arguments and discursive strategies in different contexts, this study employs a multilevel model of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA).  The findings discover that the said reality show focuses on the topos of age and the topos of beauty. These two main topoi cause different representations of social actors in Chinese media perceptions. As the representatives of female digital labour, the female employees in the Chinese internet industry construct three discursive strategies of self and relate their self-perception to those of other women. Furthermore, the study implies the discursive shifts in the discourse on Chinese women. This thesis contributes to understanding the discursive construction of women in the Chinese context, particularly the media and gender representations in the Chinese hybrid media system. In addition, this study stands outside the Western world and expands the understanding of the topic in a non-western setting. 

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