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Wanghong as Social Media Entertainment in China

Wanghong as Social Media Entertainment in China book cover

Palgrave Studies in Globalization, Culture and Society

“Addressing the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ questions of Chinese wanghong culture, platforms, industry, labor and governance, this book offers a neat, systematic, and comprehensive analysis of China’s social media entertainment industries through cultural, creative and social perspectives. It is a delightful and compelling addition to scholarship on media industry, platform studies, digital media, Chinese and cultural studies.”

— Professor Haiqing Yu, RMIT University

In Chinese, the term wanghong refers to creators, social media entrepreneurs alternatively known as KOLs (key opinion leaders) and zhubo (showroom hosts), influencers and micro-celebrities. Wanghong also refers to an emerging media ecology in which these creators cultivate online communities for cultural and commercial value by harnessing Chinese social media platforms, like Weibo, WeChat, Douyu, Huya, Bilibili, Douyin, and Kuaishuo. Framed by the concepts of cultural, creative, and social industries, the book maps the development of wanghong policies and platforms, labor and management, content and culture, as they operate in contrast to its non-Chinese counterpart, social media entertainment, driven by platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch. As evidenced by the backlash to TikTok, the threat of competition from global wanghong signals advancing platform nationalism.

“In their exploration of the nexus of creative industries, social media, and platform studies, Craig, Lin and Cunningham offer a ground-breaking account of the fast-moving Chinese media industry landscape. Drawing on interviews with industry insiders and creators, Wanghong as Social Media Entertainment in China unravels the multi-layered ecosystem of intermediaries that is reshaping communication in the world’s biggest media market. This relatively short book is of great interest to scholars and researchers of China’s media. Packed with insights from participants and informed by comparisons with the less developed West, it offers a glimpse of an unfolding digital civilization, where bleeding-edge technology is the order of the day, and where the infrastructure of digital platforms and e-commerce is replacing shopping arcades. The book begins appropriately with policy and governance, before delving into profiles and aesthetics of wanghong practitioners. It concludes with the political ramifications of the challenges facing China’s new globalizing wanghong entrepreneurs, start-ups, and creators.”

— Michael Keane, Curtin University. Author of Created in China: the Great New Leap Forward and The Chinese Television Industry

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