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Latham, Kevin (2012) 'Unimagined China: Media, Technologies and the Fragmentation of National Olympic Audiences.' The International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 (17). pp. 2311-2325.

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The Beijing Olympics were a global media event that marked China’s arrival on international political and economic stages. The Chinese authorities made great efforts, and with much success, to present to the world the face of a strong, competent, efficient, welcoming and unified China. Political dissent was suppressed, although not eliminated, Beijing residents and taxi drivers were issued with guidelines of acceptable behaviour and dress and broadcasters throughout the country celebrated the country’s outstanding sporting achievements in the Games. However, although centripetal forces of national unification behind the spirit of the Games were undeniably strong, there were nonetheless countless centrifugal forces arising through media practices that disturb this sense of imagined national unity. With new media in particular, audience fragmentation has become an established feature of China’s media landscape. This paper draws on fieldwork conducted before and during the Beijing Olympics to demonstrate the tension between these two opposing sets of forces. Through discussion of various media examples it will suggest that both the notion of a China unified behind the forceful media representations of the Games and the notion of straightforward audience fragmentation need careful rethinking to take account of the complex interrelations between pressures encouraging national identification on the one hand and those of social, technological and mediated division and diversification on the other.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN: 09523367
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 17:31

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