Daughters of the Motherland and (Wo)men of the World. Global Mobility in Shishang (Trends/Cosmopolitan), 1993–2008
The present paper undertakes a discourse analysis of Shishang (the PRC edition of Cosmopolitan) and assesses the extent to which this magazine promotes Western consumerism instead of strengthening a local national character, as Chinese scholars impute. I explore the evolution of Shishang’s approach to globalization, as reflected in articles from 1993 to 2008, and focus on global mobility as a dimension of the image of women constructed in the magazine. Throughout this period, Shishang seeks to stimulate the imagination of its readers (in Arjun Appadurai’s terms) by presenting them with experiences, attitudes and life scenarios that increasingly conform to John Tomlinson’s concept of cosmopolitanism and Aihwa Ong’s idea of flexible citizenship. The PRC’s Cosmo women “link up with the tracks of the world” by actively pursuing career development and self-fulfillment in a global context while opportunistically employing available resources, a process accompanied by a growing openness to and understanding of other cultures. Shishang not only depicts them as women of the world, but also strongly emphasizes their Chineseness, thus doubly complying with the ideological task of the media in the PRC. My study thus proves the above-mentioned criticism to be largely unfounded, but not entirely so – Shishang’s recent issues promote a model of lifestyle whose overt rejection of materialism in favor of spiritual values are built upon the consumption of expensive global tourism experiences.
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