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Hip-hop-ization : localizing a global youth culture : the remix

By Harriet Callier


Globalization is an important social phenomenon affecting all aspects of our lives. It also plays a huge role in shaping popular culture, influencing today’s youth and their self-identity. The aim of this thesis is to explore a form of American youth culture that became a global phenomenon, but with a particular focus on its expression, form and meaning in a local Asian/Chinese context. This global phenomenon is accessed by the way that hip-hop is represented, produced, consumed, regulated and serves to construct youth identity in Hong Kong (HK). These processes are studied using an ethnographic approach that draws from field observations, semi-structured questions and in-depth interviews in youth dance settings. The research findings show how hip-hop, as a global youth culture, has transcended culture, gender and class differences across geographic boundaries and into Asia. Hip-hop culture is defined and redefined by youth, as reflected in their language, music, dance and fashion. Through hip-hop and break dance, the majority of males adopt “cool pose” to display machismo. The majority of females use hip-hop, break dance and “hip-hop diva” fashion to exercise normative femininity and androgyny. Hip-hop is not restricted to a specific social class, but how and where hip-hop is interpreted and practiced in HK varies among social classes. There have been significant debates on whether or not globalization is creating a homogenized global culture. With reference to these debates, this thesis makes the following key points. Firstly, it demonstrates how the global phenomenon of hip-hop is interpreted in the HK youth context. When a global culture becomes localized, the product becomes heterogeneous. The global aspects get adapted and local indigenous forms remain to suit the needs of each locality. Cultural appropriation within hip-hop creates glocal-cultural authenticity. Secondly, this thesis expands the understanding of how hip-hop influences youth’s self-identity in HK. Hip-hop not only helps HK youth become bolder and more confident, it also sets them free from the constraints of conventional HK Chinese social norms. Third, hip-hop, as a non-mainstream HK Chinese popular culture, generates a form of subcultural capital for its participants. Hip-Hop has collectively shaped the social attitudes of HK youth in expressing their personal, social, cultural and political views. Last, this thesis highlights the interwoven relationship between the global and local expressions of hip-hop culture, (i.e., glocalization) and how it has played a significant role in producing transnational identities. Glocal hip-hop is performed, overseas and on social media, in a fusion style, e.g., integrating Kung Fu and break dance together. Globalization produces a bi-directional exchange of culture from its original locale to new locales and back. To understand global hip-hop, one must acknowledge the impact of individual experiences, cultural influences and collective consciousness of youth. This study aims to contribute to the existing body of literature on globalization, youth studies and hip-hop. Finally, this study seeks to enhance the existing framework for the study of changes in global youth culture by suggesting ways in which hip-hop can be used, understood and transformed throughout the world.published_or_final_versionSociologyDoctoralDoctor of Philosoph

Topics: Youth - China - Hong Kong, Hip-hop - Social aspects - China - Hong Kong
Publisher: 'The University of Hong Kong Libraries'
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.5353/th_b5736674
OAI identifier:
Provided by: HKU Scholars Hub
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