The Myth of the City Image in Contemporary Chinese Society
In the past three decades, China's cities have experienced rapid urbanization in a transitional political and economic environment; correspondingly, the city image has become one of the most important symbols of the progress in Chinese development. Within the Chinese mainstream media, the transformation of the city image has long been heralded as a successful microcosm of Chinese political and economic reforms. However, the social reality behind the prosperous facade of the city's image is that city leaders are reshaping urban spaces to cater to the needs of the dominant class, multinational corporations, and global capitalism. Moreover, the construction of the city's image obfuscates the widening gap between rich and poor, class conflicts, and the reconstitution of capitalist class power. I hypothesize that the idea of the contemporary city image is a myth, and intend to reveal the meanings and connotations which the myth conceals. More specifically, I conduct a case study of the 2008 Beijing Olympic campaign by comparing the representation of the city image offered by mainstream and alternative media sources. I examine how the mainstream media helped to construct the myth in accordance with government directives and how it was contested within the alternative media. In this way, I explore the power relations and class struggle behind the myth from a social justice perspective.