New book examines China's thought management
12 October 2011
The ways in which China's government has modernised its propaganda system to reflect its changed political and economic environment are investigated in a new book edited by University of Canterbury political scientist Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady.
The ways in which China’s government has modernised its propaganda system to reflect its changed political and economic environment are investigated in a new book edited by University of Canterbury political scientist Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady.
China’s Thought Management, published by Routledge, features a series of case studies that examine how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has modified its propaganda programme by focusing on specific issues such as the new emphasis on economic propaganda; the role of Confucianism in national ideology; how the CCP uses propaganda to maintain its hold on the People’s Liberation Army; the new approach of “mass distraction” as a form of persuasion; and the role of the propaganda system in managing the Chinese diaspora.
Professor Brady said this latest publication expanded on the findings of her 2008 book Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers).
“Marketing Dictatorship gives an overview of how the Chinese government has maintained and strengthened its hold on political power by changing its approach to propaganda. But, while I was working on that book, I thought it would be good to do a series of case studies illustrating how their approach has changed,” she said.
“I particularly wanted more information out there about China’s economic propaganda as that’s important to know when trying to understand its growth in the world. The CCP is working hard to manage opinion, both internationally and domestically, about its economy and if you don’t appreciate this you might make mistaken assumptions about China’s political stability and economic development.”
Professor Brady contributed five chapters to the book, including one looking at the Beijing Olympics as “a campaign of mass distraction” and another on China’s modernised approach to social and political control. She also worked with two of her former post-docs - Wang Juntao and He Yong – on two of the chapters, while her former doctoral student James To contributed a chapter based on his thesis work. UC academic Dr Ji Fengyuan (Languages, Cultures and Linguistics) also wrote a chapter on linguistic engineering in Hu Jintao’s China.
Professor Brady said the CCP’s approach to propaganda had changed in the post-Mao era, particularly after the protest movement of 1989. China was now using Western methods of mass persuasion and adapting them to Chinese conditions and needs. These techniques had allowed the CCP to repackage itself along more democratic lines while preserving one party rule.
“In the realm of ideas where people can be influenced, the CCP wants to be managing this but it doesn’t want to micro-manage anymore – it’s now using macro-management. People in China have more space to express a wide range of views and there is a lot more information available in China than there used to be. But some taboo limits are still there – you still can’t challenge or criticise the political system – but a lot of topics that were taboo are taboo no longer.”
- China’s Thought Management edited by Anne-Marie Brady, published by Routledge, 2011, RRP £75, ISBN 978-0-415616-7-37.
For more information please contact:
Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Canterbury
Ph: +64 3 364 2809
What to read next:
Recognition for Māori history scholar and translator
One of the country’s leading Māori history scholars will be awarded an honorary degree in recognition for his work revitalising te reo Māori as a ...
UC awards honorary doctorate to Margaret Austin
The University of Canterbury is bestowing an honorary doctorate on educator, politician, scientist and passionate community advocate, Margaret Austin.