About the workshop: Since the beginning of the 21st century, the network-outsourcing model has transformed the previously closed and monopolized modes of production into open and sharing ones. With media corporate boundaries being pushed to transnational horizons and their media business diversified, different media organizations will target a greater range of audience communities as their “new world”. The study of the changing political economy of new media has not sufficiently paid attention to their increasing power in the production of gender and sexuality. This proposal for a new media workshop will highlight the different ways in which the expansion of highly commercialized new media empires have expanded the reach of old patriarchies, deepened hegemonic heterosexual culture, and sexualized both women and men, even including LGBT groups.
Meanwhile, with the unprecedented “global expansion” of media conglomerates, the trends of commercialization, privatization, centralization, and deregulation in the communications industry have intensified, rather than declined. They have become increasingly integrated with publication, broadcasting, and information services. The most up-to-date methods of business administration, including processes such as production, marketing, financing, and accounting, have penetrated every dimension of the media. Through the penetration of the communications industry, a new form of hierarchical organization is being established worldwide. Media organizations’ goal of profit-making has been further integrated into the disciplinary power of capitalism, the hegemony of heteronormativity and patriarchy. Through all these processes, gender divisions are central to the organisation and everyday experience of modern communications in three key domains. Firstly, women are integral to the communications workforce in a variety of roles. They are novelists, journalists, film, television and music stars, workers in factories manufacturing communications appliances, and call centre staff, key links in communications networks. Secondly, women constitute a major audience segment with a range of specialist media, from magazines to television soap operas, tailored to their supposed interests. Thirdly, women continue to assume primary responsibility for routine family consumption and child care, placing them in the front line of the relations between personal and domestic space, advertising, and the organisation of children’s media exposure and use.
These gendered relations of communications systems date back to the origins of modern media and intersect in complex ways with other key dimensions of social stratification organized around class, ethnicity, technology and marketing. However, over the last two decades or so, social and economic changes have coincided with the rise of digital media to pose new challenges for research and theories on the relations between communications and gender, sexuality. Currently, what sustains the continuous expansion of the network platform economy are network flow and click-through rates, which are the commodity tools for network capital accumulation. These instruments do not hesitate to violate personal privacy and moral principles to disseminate a flood of pornographic information and fan the flames of a hypersexualized commercialized culture. Thus, network information has lost its credibility in the eyes of the public for a long time.
Living in specific social contexts, individuals are likely to feel the control of the political and economic systems, but not necessarily to the gender order shaped by media, as well as its complex and subtle control mechanisms. The gender order tends to be integrated into economic interests, political goals and cultural norms. Moreover, the power hierarchy of gender is mutually intersected with the hypocrisy and exclusivity hidden in the structures and power axes of class, race, nation, region and citizenship.
The second Fudan – Harvard-Yenching Institute Workshop on “New Media and Gender Studies” is intended to both enrich the theoretical quality of critical communication studies, and to contribute to policy planning and practices. Reflecting on globalization and international references, academic and theoretical works focused on the field of “New Media and Gender Studies” will provide new insights and perspectives to enrich Chinese academia. They will help to broaden the theoretical horizon of China’s communications research, to intervene in the reproduction of the existing gender and social order, to seek out forces for social transformation in Chinese society, and to critically analyze the processes of “knowledge” production. All these will deepen the exploration of teaching gender equality, sexuality, and discussion of their future in cyberspace.
Date: January 2-9, 2021
Hosted by: Harvard-Yenching Institute; Graduate School at Fudan University, Shanghai; Center for International Publishing Studies, Fudan University; School of Journalism at Fudan University, Shanghai
Location: Online via Zoom
Application deadline: December 20, 2020
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