Drawing on original research that I conducted in the People's Republic of China, this thesis
argues for a critical approach to the study of children and television. It begins with a survey of
previous literature in the area in order to locate my own study in its intellectual context. This is
followed by critical reappraisals of the approaches developed by empiricist and interpretative
studies, which identify their main problems and set the ground for the central theoretical
argument for a critical approach.
The third chapter is devoted to the exposition of the case for a critical inquiry, the gist of which is
to link the micro with the macro levels of social life, and to link biography with history. In the
case of this particular study, the task is to relate the situated activity of children's television
viewing and parents' reaction to it, to the broader historical and cultural formations in Chinese
The fourth chapter is an account of the evolution of children's television in China, tracing its
movement from ideological indoctrination and intellectual education (from the late 1950s to the
early 1980s) to the tendency towards commercialization (from the mid 1980s onwards).
The following two chapters consist of the empirical core of the thesis. Chapter 5 is a general
study of children's viewing activity, with particular attention being paid to tile modes through
which Chinese parents attempt to execute control over their children's viewing. In the final
chapter, the recent trend of commercialization of children's television is further explored by way
of a case study of the craze for Transformers cartoon series and toy range in China and its
relation to the rise of consumerism. The thesis concludes by indicating new lines of inquiry for
future research on China opened up by this piece of work.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.