CCCH5017 China: Culture, State and Society
People, Propaganda and Profit: Understanding Media in China (Online)

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)

Course Description

[Lectures and tutorials of this course will be delivered online.]

This course aims to explore the evolving media landscape of China during the post-1978 reform period from a sociological perspective. The course will begin by examining the historical roots of mass propaganda in Chinese media during the Mao Era, analyzing its development from political, social, and cultural dimensions. Subsequently, the course will delve into how Deng’s market liberalization policies have infused profit-making mechanisms that have reshaped media practices, all while the government maintains control. The course will use specific examples to illustrate how the emergence of new media technology, fortified by Xi’s media convergence policy, has enabled the voice of the people to be heard, amplifying media’s role as a mass communication vehicle both domestically and globally. Throughout the semester, the course will utilize the “people, propaganda, and profit” framework to examine the implications of shifting relations between the state, market, and society on cultural and media production, consumption and reception.


This course engages in a cross-disciplinary exploration of the social consequences of the evolving media environment in China. Through an analysis of various forms of media and communication, such as newspapers, television, film, advertising, the arts, and new media, this course scrutinizes the intricate and dynamic interplay of evolving political, economic, and social forces that contribute to cultural and social transformation in China.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the major factors that have driven the transformation of China’s media from a tool for mass propaganda to mass communication.
  2. Analyze the limitations of unfettered media commercialization and profit-making within the framework of sustained Party ideological control.
  3. Evaluate the emergence of the people’s voice through the ascent of new media, diverse media, and popular culture forms, and assess its role in the growth of China’s budding civil society.
  4. Appraise the ongoing binary discourse on media autonomy and Party control, utilizing various media studies and sociology theories covered in the course.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 26
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 50
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Total: 130

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Project 25
Written assignment 30
Tutorial presentation and participation 45

Required Reading

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr L.F. Cho
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4641
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr L.F. Cho
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4641