Power and precarity in Chinese television production: an ethnographic study into the working culture of studio-based entertainment

Tianyu Zhang

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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With a growing market of international television format trade, more and more television producers are looking for business opportunities in other countries, especially in China. China has become one of the markets with the biggest potential for UK exporters. However, due to China’s unique political-economic environment, it remains difficult for foreign scholars to explore the inner workings of the Chinese media industry. Even Chinese academics find it difficult to gain access to television stations and independent production companies. Scholars without access often have to study television production as outsiders, and very few have conducted ethnography in the industry. This ethnographic thesis aims to explore the everyday production practices of Chinese studio-based entertainment shows in order to understand the production culture of Chinese TV. It also analyses the precarious working conditions of television practitioners who are behind the production processes. Ultimately, this thesis argues that many external and internal factors have contributed to the precarious nature of the Chinese television industry, and in turn, the industry has shaped its practitioners into the new precariat of Chinese society.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Ellis, John, Supervisor
Award date1 Jan 2022
Publication statusUnpublished - 6 Dec 2021


  • television production
  • ethnography
  • Chinese entertainment
  • precarity
  • power

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