‘Mingren are the respectable ones’: An analysis of everyday engagements with contemporary celebrity culture in China

Abstract

To investigate the values and social norms underpinning celebrity culture, it is crucial to study everyday uses of celebrity culture. Yet, studies in this area have been limited thus far, especially in non-Western contexts. This exploratory study focuses on the ways how young and middle-aged adults in everyday life in urban China discuss and value media celebrities. The results show that respondents have a rather similar way of valuing celebrity: celebrities need to have strong work ethics and showcase social responsibility; only then do they ‘earn’ their right to be considered ‘famous’. We conclude that these values are closely related to the current socio-cultural situation of China’s social transformation and echo the value system promoted by the Chinese government

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