The digital revolution: documentary-making and citizenship in contemporary China

Margherita Viviani

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

[Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the development of social-issue independent documentary films produced in China between 2004 and 2010. The analysis draws upon ethnographic research conducted in different Chinese cities during independent documentary film festivals and film workshops, through personal communication and interviews, and on material collected in libraries, bookstores, and, especially, online. I argue that documentary-making contributes to the creation of public spheres in which networks of production, distribution and consumption are integrated, and where different social and technological actors interact towards a common end. Independent documentary films in China are shot mainly by non-professionals. They generally depict normal people’s everyday lives, but with special attention to the ‘others’, that is, those who can be described as the ‘weaker’ or ‘disadvantaged’ social groups (ruoshi qunti) suffering more from the consequences rather than the benefits of China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization. In the last few years, independent documentaries in China began dealing with challenging topics such as governance in rural communities, the economic and social impacts of reform, and ‘social scandals’ detailing the underbelly of Chinese officialdom. This is all part and parcel of a more general growing sense of civil rights awareness and activity in many quarters. The social world of the documentaries is therefore an opportunity to examine, warts and all, a microcosm of ‘civil society’.
LanguageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2012

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documentary film
citizenship
China
officialdom
film festival
scandal
social issue
civil rights
economic impact
industrialization
social effects
rural community
everyday life
urbanization
civil society
governance
reform
communication
interview

Cite this

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title = "The digital revolution: documentary-making and citizenship in contemporary China",
abstract = "[Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the development of social-issue independent documentary films produced in China between 2004 and 2010. The analysis draws upon ethnographic research conducted in different Chinese cities during independent documentary film festivals and film workshops, through personal communication and interviews, and on material collected in libraries, bookstores, and, especially, online. I argue that documentary-making contributes to the creation of public spheres in which networks of production, distribution and consumption are integrated, and where different social and technological actors interact towards a common end. Independent documentary films in China are shot mainly by non-professionals. They generally depict normal people’s everyday lives, but with special attention to the ‘others’, that is, those who can be described as the ‘weaker’ or ‘disadvantaged’ social groups (ruoshi qunti) suffering more from the consequences rather than the benefits of China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization. In the last few years, independent documentaries in China began dealing with challenging topics such as governance in rural communities, the economic and social impacts of reform, and ‘social scandals’ detailing the underbelly of Chinese officialdom. This is all part and parcel of a more general growing sense of civil rights awareness and activity in many quarters. The social world of the documentaries is therefore an opportunity to examine, warts and all, a microcosm of ‘civil society’.",
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The digital revolution: documentary-making and citizenship in contemporary China. / Viviani, Margherita.

2012.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

TY - THES

T1 - The digital revolution: documentary-making and citizenship in contemporary China

AU - Viviani,Margherita

N1 - Restricted access until 3 February 2013

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - [Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the development of social-issue independent documentary films produced in China between 2004 and 2010. The analysis draws upon ethnographic research conducted in different Chinese cities during independent documentary film festivals and film workshops, through personal communication and interviews, and on material collected in libraries, bookstores, and, especially, online. I argue that documentary-making contributes to the creation of public spheres in which networks of production, distribution and consumption are integrated, and where different social and technological actors interact towards a common end. Independent documentary films in China are shot mainly by non-professionals. They generally depict normal people’s everyday lives, but with special attention to the ‘others’, that is, those who can be described as the ‘weaker’ or ‘disadvantaged’ social groups (ruoshi qunti) suffering more from the consequences rather than the benefits of China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization. In the last few years, independent documentaries in China began dealing with challenging topics such as governance in rural communities, the economic and social impacts of reform, and ‘social scandals’ detailing the underbelly of Chinese officialdom. This is all part and parcel of a more general growing sense of civil rights awareness and activity in many quarters. The social world of the documentaries is therefore an opportunity to examine, warts and all, a microcosm of ‘civil society’.

AB - [Truncated abstract] This thesis examines the development of social-issue independent documentary films produced in China between 2004 and 2010. The analysis draws upon ethnographic research conducted in different Chinese cities during independent documentary film festivals and film workshops, through personal communication and interviews, and on material collected in libraries, bookstores, and, especially, online. I argue that documentary-making contributes to the creation of public spheres in which networks of production, distribution and consumption are integrated, and where different social and technological actors interact towards a common end. Independent documentary films in China are shot mainly by non-professionals. They generally depict normal people’s everyday lives, but with special attention to the ‘others’, that is, those who can be described as the ‘weaker’ or ‘disadvantaged’ social groups (ruoshi qunti) suffering more from the consequences rather than the benefits of China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization. In the last few years, independent documentaries in China began dealing with challenging topics such as governance in rural communities, the economic and social impacts of reform, and ‘social scandals’ detailing the underbelly of Chinese officialdom. This is all part and parcel of a more general growing sense of civil rights awareness and activity in many quarters. The social world of the documentaries is therefore an opportunity to examine, warts and all, a microcosm of ‘civil society’.

KW - Documentary films

KW - China

KW - Alternative media

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

ER -