Digital Mobility and Cultural Consumption: Online Reception of Contemporary British Television Dramas in China


Rui Xu


Audience Studies, TV studies, Media Studies, Censorship, Digital Media, Media Impact, Digital Mobility, Cultural Studies, Queer Studies, Cosmopolitanism, Transnational Television, British Television Drama


This thesis investigates the popularity and audience engagement of British TV dramas in China, as this represents a massive and continuous trend among Chinese audiences online since 2010. Based on multi-modal methods combining digital ethnographic methods, interviews and a case study, this thesis has examined the consumption of British TV dramas in its situated social-political context that is largely overlooked in the study of transnational TV dramas in China. The theoretical framework draws on cosmopolitan, Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and taste, and Cultivation theory. It studies the consumption of foreign AV content in a digital setting in the current media-restrained Chinese society.

The implications of this study are fourfold: First, taste hierarchy as a means of social distinction is observed in the consumption of British TV dramas in China, as watching British TV dramas is perceived as a reputational badge of sophistication, taste and high-end. Second, findings show an association between digital/virtual mobility, social distinction and transnational TV drama consumption in China, as increasing media policies and censorship has determined how foreign content is consumed. Third, the consumption of British TV dramas shows the desire of the Chinese audience to keep a connection with the world culture in a gradually restricted media environment. Fourth, British TV dramas satisfy audiences’ growing need for cultural materials to identify with their micro-political struggles of everyday life. In particular, the queer readings of British TV dramas in China have promoted LGBTQ culture in China to a certain extent. The findings in this thesis indicate its significant value for the Chinese LGBTQ community.

The frontpage shows the title of the dissertation and the name of the author. A picture of a square building is also seen.



12 december 2023

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