Structure, Audience and Soft Power in East Asian Pop Culture
Chua Beng Huat
March 2012
200 pages
6" x 9"
Paperback 978-988-8139-04-0
This edition is no longer available.
HK$195 (Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, and Taiwan only)
US$25 (Other Countries)
Hardback 978-988-8139-03-3

East Asian pop culture can be seen as an integrated cultural economy emerging from the rise of Japanese and Korean pop culture as an influential force in the distribution and reception networks of Chinese language pop culture embedded in the ethnic Chinese diaspora. Taking Singapore as a locus of pan-Asian Chineseness, Chua Beng Huat provides detailed analysis of the fragmented reception process of transcultural audiences and the processes of audiences’ formation and exercise of consumer power and engagement with national politics.

In an era where exercise of military power is increasingly restrained, pop culture has become an important component of soft power diplomacy and transcultural collaborations in a region that is still haunted by colonization and violence. The author notes that the aspirations behind national governments’ efforts to use popular culture is limited by the fragmented nature of audiences who respond differently to the same products; by the danger of backlash from other members of the importing country’s population that do not consume the popular culture products in question; and by the efforts of the primary consuming country, the People’s Republic of China to shape products through co-production strategies and other indirect modes of intervention.

Chua Beng Huat is professor of sociology at National University of Singapore, and the author of Life Is Not Complete Without Shopping: Consumption Culture in Singapore.


“Chua Beng Huat offers us a tasty buffet of selections from East Asian cinema, TV drama, music, animation and manga in this groundbreaking book. He shows how linguistic differences in culturally proximate regions work with commercial Pop Culture forces to engender multiple, complex identities that are open to change and strategic use.” —Michael Keane, Queensland University of Technology

“In this excellent introductory text Chua Beng Huat captures East Asia’s cultural and capitalist vibrancy. The book’s regional in scope and conceptual clarity make it a welcome tool for teaching students who are captivated by the topic and informing scholars seeking expert guidance in an emerging field of scholarship.” —Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Cornell University

“An accessible introduction to a field that the author has been at the forefront of for some years now. Countering the assumption of a ‘greater China’ based on shared Confucian values, Chua shows how popular culture forges a multicentered and varied Chinese identity beyond any one state or territory.” —Chris Berry, Goldsmiths, University of London

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