This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Volume 3, Number 10
Reinventing Rebellion: Alternative Youth
Subcultures in Post-Tiananmen China
THE ÌNTERNATÌONAL JOURNAL OF ÌNTERDÌSCÌPLÌNARY SOCÌAL SCÌENCES
First published in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia by Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd
© 2009 (individual papers), the author(s)
© 2009 (selection and editorial matter) Common Ground
Authors are responsible for the accuracy of citations, quotations, diagrams, tables and maps.
All rights reserved. Apart from fair use for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review as
permitted under the Copyright Act (Australia), no part of this work may be reproduced without written
permission from the publisher. For permissions and other inquiries, please contact
Publisher Site: http://www.SocialSciences-Journal.com
THE ÌNTERNATÌONAL JOURNAL OF ÌNTERDÌSCÌPLÌNARY SOCÌAL SCÌENCES is a peer refereed
journal. Full papers submitted for publication are refereed by Associate Editors through anonymous
Typeset in Common Ground Markup Language using CGCreator multichannel typesetting system
Reinventing Rebellion: Alternative Youth Subcultures in
David Drissel, Iowa Central Community College, IA, USA
Abstract: For decades, the People’s Republic of China lacked any visible manifestations of Western-inﬂuenced youth sub-
cultures, while mandating social and cultural conformity to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist dogma. The advent of visible youth
subcultures - a phenomenon denounced yet conditionally tolerated by the regime - coincided with the widespread dissemin-
ation of economic reform policies in the 1980s. Such youthful rebellion was stiﬂed for a time after the crackdown of the
student-led democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since that time, new youth subcultures have emerged that
subtly challenge the socio-cultural status quo. Most such subcultures effectively combine Western-inﬂuenced music and
“cool” styles with Chinese characteristics. This paper examines perceptions among Chinese youth of such glocal subcultural
identities as xin xinrenlei (“new new human beings”), linglei (“alternative”), and panni (“rebel”). The paper is largely
based on an ethnographic study of Chinese teenagers and young adults (ages 14 to 28).
Keywords: China, Youth Subcultures, Rock and Roll, Yaogun, Alternative Rock, Linglei, Rebellion, Punk Rock, Pangke,
New New Human Beings, Xin Xinrenlei, Tiananmen Square, Panni, Disco, Hip-Hop, Subcultural Revolution, Chinese
Communist Party, Economic Reform, Globalization, Glocalization, Distinctive Individuality, Gangtai, Canto-pop, Homo-
sexuality, Cool, Subterranean Values, Ravers, Yuppies
OR SEVERAL DECADES following the
Communist Revolution of 1949, the People’s
Republic of China (PRC) mandated social
and cultural conformity among young people,
thereby precluding any visible manifestations of
youth subcultures (qingnian ya wenhua).
rigidity and unquestioned subservience to the ofﬁcial
“proletarian” values of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
were the norm, with Western fashion styles and
“bourgeois” popular culture stigmatized and ofﬁ-
cially prohibited by the Chinese Communist Party
However, China’s “reformand opening up” (gaige
kaifang) program, launched by Deng Xiaoping and
other communist reformers soon after long-time
Party Chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, inaug-
urated signiﬁcant changes in the economy and soci-
ety. With the advent of liberalized trade and market-
oriented policies in agriculture and industry, a con-
sumer-based economy gradually materialized. Such
reforms steadily shattered many of the barriers to
cultural inﬂuences coming fromabroad, thus facilit-
ating the importation and widespread dissemination
of rock music and related Western commodities.
As a result, visible Chinese youth subcultures
emerged for the ﬁrst time - a phenomenon denounced
yet tentatively tolerated by the regime. By the mid-
1980s, a signiﬁcant number of Chinese young people
were not only listening to Western pop and rock
music, but also performing and recording their own
unique brand of locally-produced rock music (yaogun
yinue). Combining Chinese themes and traditional
instrumentation with highly ampliﬁed vocals and
electric guitar riffs, yaogun was designed to be an
eclectic musical hybrid.
In this respect, rock music was recontextualized
by Chinese youth, with cultural objects and ideas
being “borrowed” from the West for the purpose of
applying them in a different social context. Initially
designed to be a relatively subversive musical genre,
yaogun had a profound impact on Chinese political
Most notably, many Chinese rock musicians and
others in the nascent yaogun subculture were instru-
mental in inﬂuencing the student-led pro-democracy
demonstrations of the late 1980s. But in the aftermath
of the massacre of countless hundreds – if not thou-
sands - of democracy movement participants at
Tiananmen Square, most Chinese young people no
The term “youth” in China refers to a much broader age span than in the West and typically includes those in their early teens to late
twenties (Kwong, 1994:248).
As Jones (1992b:159) has noted, there was a conscious effort by many Chinese musicians to create “rock and roll with Chinese character-
istics” (you Zhongguo tese de yaogun yue). The yaogun band, Tang Dynasty, for instance, purposively incorporated traditional Chinese
instruments and imagery into their heavy-metal sounds.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES,
VOLUME 3, NUMBER 10, 2009
http://www.SocialSciences-Journal.com, ISSN 1833-1882
© Common Ground, David Drissel, All Rights Reserved, Permissions: email@example.com
longer perceived overt rebellion to be a viable option
for achieving social change.
Nonetheless, new subcultural identities have
emerged in post-Tiananmen China that effectively
combine the nonconformist demeanor and style of
various Western-related youth subcultures (e.g., al-
terna-rockers, punk rockers, metal heads, goths,
grunge kids, hip-hoppers, ravers, and club kids) with
Chinese characteristics. Such Chinese-language
subcultural identiﬁcations include xin xinrenlei (“new
new human beings”), linglei (“alternative”), and
panni (rebel), which are the result of syncretistic
cross-cultural interactions on the global stage.
Though copying and mimicking the latest pop
culture trends from the West has been undoubtedly
a factor in the relatively rapid proliferation of various
subcultures, Chinese youth have been active parti-
cipants in hybridizing various multinational/multicul-
tural frames. In effect, glocalization; i.e., synthesiz-
ing the global with the local; has had a major impact
on individual and collective identities of youth in
contemporary China (Kang 2004:5).
This article investigates the reasons why a growing
number of Chinese urban teenagers and young adults
are embracing various Western-inﬂuenced subcultur-
al identities and related musical genres. The subject-
ive meanings that young people attach to such sub-
cultures, and how and why these meanings differ
among respondents, are explored.
More speciﬁcally, howare xin xinrenlei and linglei
conceptualized and distinguished by Chinese youth?
What role has been played by rock music and related
sub-genres in the construction of such subcultures?
Are such subcultural identities adopted mainly for
personal and egocentric reasons, or rather for altru-
istic and even tacitly political (i.e., counter-hegemon-
ic) concerns? Are young people engaging in the
conspicuous consumption of “cool” music and other
subcultural commodities for the primary purpose of
achieving peer-based recognition and status? Or, al-
ternately, are they effectively reinventing rebellion
through the furtive violation of various social norms
in everyday life?
Based in large measure on an ethnographic study of
Chinese teenagers and young adults that I inter-
viewed in Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Yichang,
Tianjin, and other major Chinese cities, this article
analyzes the innovative discourses of youth in the
social construction of linglei, xin xinrenlei, and re-
lated hybridized youth subcultures.
Traveling around the country for ﬁve-weeks in
June/July 2005 as a member of a Fulbright-Hayes
delegation sponsored by the Midwest Institute for
International/Intercultural Education (MIIIE), I con-
ducted relatively brief (ten to sixty minutes) open-
ended semi-structured interviews with ﬁfty young
people. I interviewed twenty-seven males and
twenty-three females, ranging in age from 14 to 28
years old. In order to insure conﬁdentiality, I used
English-language pseudonyms for all respondents
cited in the article.
This was actually my second trip to China, with
my ﬁrst visit occurring ﬁve years previously in July
2000. At that time, I observed that many Chinese
young people – particularly those living in major
cities such as Beijing and Shanghai – appeared to be
very westernized in terms of fashion and musical
In preparing to write this article, I engaged in an
extensive content analysis of numerous contemporary
artifacts of Chinese popular culture, including CDs
and tapes, music videos, novels, ﬁlms, and websites.
As a result, I have included in this article relevant
examples of Chinese rock music lyrics, popular liter-
ary texts, and excerpts from published interviews
with prominent “alternative” performers and authors.
Data Collection in Urban Spaces and
In the course of my ethnographic research in
June/July 2005, I randomly approached young people
“hanging out” in various urban public spaces and
places such as street corners, town squares, parks,
shopping centers, fast-food restaurants, college
campuses, basketball courts, and nightclubs. In many
of the venues in which I solicited respondents,
crowds had formed that contained relatively small,
temporary clusters, of teenagers and young adults.
Such informal “prosaic gatherings”
tended to devel-
op when young people were free fromthe constraints
of work, school, or similar obligations.
I met many of my respondents at so-called “Eng-
lish corners,” held once or twice weekly at night on
various college campuses around the country. Ironic-
ally, such “corners” are typically positioned directly
beneath a large statue of Mao. Though the stated
purpose of such gatherings is to “practice English,”
I found that such spaces are utilized mainly for peer-
to-peer interaction. Young men, in particular, often
told me that they visit English corners primarily to
For more on the global hybridization of youth subcultures see Nilan and Feixa (2006:2-3).
This is a term coined by McPhail (1994:37).
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 40
On a few occasions, I also interviewed young
people in more structured campus environments,
with small group meetings having been arranged in
advance by leaders of the Fulbright-Hayes delega-
After introducing myself to potential respondents,
I explained that I was an American college professor
conducting sociological research about Chinese
youth, popular culture, and related subcultural iden-
tities. My interview questions focused primarily on
perceptions of xin xinrenlei and linglei, asking re-
spondents if they viewed such terms as generally
positive or negative. I followed up by inquiring about
their reasons for having such viewpoints. I then asked
whether or not they had ever used either of these
terms to describe themselves or friends and acquaint-
ances. If they self-identiﬁed as either xin xinrenlei
or linglei, I inquired as to how and why they had
embraced such a subcultural identity.
In addition, I asked about their musical tastes,
questioning if they preferred any particular Western
and/or Chinese/Asian genres/sub-genres of music.
Along these lines, I inquired as to whether or not
there were any aspects of Chinese society that they
strongly disliked or found objectionable and how
such issues related to their daily lives.
During the course of my interviews, I jotted down
ﬁeld notes and wrote additional comments and obser-
vations soon after each interview (or set of inter-
views) had ended. My relatively informal open-ended
interviews seemed to put my respondents at ease,
particularly given the often hectic and noisy atmo-
sphere in which my research was conducted.
Qualitative Data Analysis
In examining my data, I did not utilize any statistical
methods but rather chose to develop a purely qualit-
ative approach in which selected comments frommy
respondents, along with related Chinese media and
musical sources, would inform my analysis.
Though I did not attempt to generalize my ﬁndings
to the entire Chinese population, my largely qualitat-
ive approach addressed central theoretical issues and
generated data that was very rich, detailed, and based
on an awareness of my respondents’ real or perceived
dialogic limitations within China’s authoritarian
system. I focused my inquiry on social interactions
among young people within various social spaces
and the subjective meanings attached to such interac-
tions by my respondents. Reporting such nuanced
responses would have been much more difﬁcult in
a highly structured or purely quantitative research
My theoretical claims are based in large measure
on direct observations and interviews. In this regard,
I modeled my research methods after Florence
Weber’s (2001) “multi-integrative ethnography” and
Gary Alan Fine’s (2003) “peopled ethnography.” As
Fine explains, such an approach provides “primacy
to the observation of interactions but always grasping
these within structural conditions” (46).
Conceptualizing Youth Subcultures
Youth subcultures in China, as in the West, can be
deﬁned as groups of teenagers and young adults
sharing certain common cultural features, yet appear-
ing to have values, norms, roles, and attitudes that
differ substantially fromthe larger culture (Johnston
and Snow 1998:474). Described as “meaning sys-
tems, modes of expression or lifestyles developed
by groups in subordinate structural positions,” youth
subcultures exist in a state of systemic contradiction
with the parent culture (Brake 1985:8).
In contrast to social movements, subcultures have
a tendency to be unorganized, spontaneous, and
largely symbolic in opposing the status quo. Though
subcultural “membership” is mostly informal and
often ephemeral, adherents typically express their
individual and collective identities by displaying a
relatively distinct fashion style (e.g., often-unusual
clothing, hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, tattoos, and
body piercings), engaging in non-standard leisure
activities, and communicating in part through an ar-
got of esoteric slang terms. Thus, subcultures “carry
‘secret’ meanings: meanings which express, in code,
a form of resistance to the order which guarantees
their subordination” (Hebdige 1979:17-18).
The presumably deviant values and norms of
subcultures frequently permeate popular culture and
are transmitted primarily through music, movies,
television shows, magazines, and other media (Hagan
1991). Young people identifying with subcultures
often articulate a very strong preference for speciﬁc
types of music, tending to embrace genres and sub-
genres positioned on the fringes of popular culture
(e.g., hardcore punk, gangsta rap, death metal, acid
house). Indeed, many youth subcultures are virtually
synonymous with alternative music subcultures
Subcultural adherents are inclined to rely upon
alternative methods for disseminating music and re-
lated subcultural media and commodities (e.g., inde-
pendent record labels, bootleg recordings, club re-
mixes, amateur “fanzine” publications, posters, t-
shirts, grafﬁti art, music downloads, video-sharing/so-
cial networking websites), which tend to circumvent
centralized social control and bureaucratic oversight.
The Internet, in particular, enables subcultural inform-
ation to be dispersed in a highly interactive, global-
ized context, which often “exists beyond the means
of control of the dominant media culture” (Kahn and
41 DAVID DRISSEL
Accumulating Subcultural Capital
Distinguished by their alleged authenticity and
streetwise demeanor, subcultures are particularly
appealing to marginalized or alienated youth seeking
an enhanced sense of belonging and self-esteem
(Brake 1985:45). Along these lines, young people
exhibiting relevant knowledge about “cool” musical
genres and artists, for instance, often garner respect
and admiration from their subcultural peers. The
consumption of particular commodities and utiliza-
tion of certain slang expressions are also important
in facilitating the recognition of individuals within
Thornton (1997) refers to this interactive process
of achieving in-group prestige as “subcultural capit-
noting that such capital “confers status on its
owner in the eyes of the relevant beholder” (202).
Accruing subcultural capital involves spurning the
commercial mainstreamwhile maintaining personal
tastes that are deemed to be “authentic” by one’s
subcultural peers (Weinzierl and Muggleton 2003:7-
However, it is important to note that subcultures
are not static entities with rigid boundaries encapsu-
lating homologous individuals. Though the mass
media and other mainstream observers often reify
particular subcultures, they are actually abstract ty-
pologies that “reﬂect the complex lived reality of
individual members” (Muggleton 2000:22-23).
Subcultures are not “ontologically distinct or preex-
istent, but are brought into being, constructed and
replayed through everyday actions, dress, adornment,
and other cultural practices” (Weinzierl and
Semiotic Guerrilla Warfare
In many respects, youth subcultures are akin to “neo-
tribes,” which are relatively inclusive, experimental,
and transitory. Such neo-tribalism “allows for the
shifting nature of youth’s musical and stylistic pref-
erences and the essential ﬂuidity of youth cultural
groups” (Bennet 1999:614).
Thus, the formation of youth subcultures is an
active, creative course of action occurring in a variety
of local social spaces on a daily basis. By construct-
ing, negotiating, and disseminating subcultural
identities in conjunction with like-minded peers, in-
dividuals and groups potentially are able to challenge
existing social organizations and hegemonic power
As Brake (1985:8) contends, members of subcul-
tures often involve themselves in “semiotic guerrilla
warfare” at the level of fashion and music, rather
than engaging in overt political activism. Scott
(1990) notes similarly that resistance to the status
quo takes many forms, with overt acts of rebellion
often less prudent or efﬁcacious than more subtle
In many cases, the best (or safest) course of action
for subordinate groups (including subcultures) is to
resist domination covertly, anonymously, or in an
ostensibly apolitical manner. This theory seems es-
pecially applicable to China and other authoritarian
states, where unauthorized mass protests or demon-
strations can easily lead to the arrest and/or impris-
onment of participants.
From Mao to the Market
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
(1966-1976), Western-style popular culture and re-
lated youth subcultures were ofﬁcially banned by
though widespread acts of
violence and property destruction committed by
radical youths known as “Red Guards” (hong weib-
ing) were quite common. Mao Zedong initially en-
couraged the activities of this diffuse student-based
group in an effort to purge so-called “capitalist
roaders” (i.e., economic reformers) from leadership
positions in government, educational institutions,
and other sectors.
Responding directly to Mao’s pronouncement that
“it is right to rebel,” the Red Guards harassed, im-
prisoned, tortured, and/or killed many thousands of
people arbitrarily labeled “class enemies” (Dittmer
1977:675-681). Eventually, after years of social up-
heaval, Mao decided to deploy the military to end
Red Guard violence and reign in the radical youth
he had earlier unleashed.
In the aftermath of Mao’s death in 1976, the
ideological orientation of the CCP gradually aban-
doned orthodox radicalism and instead embraced a
more pragmatic policy orientation. By 1978, Deng
Xiaoping and other economic reformers had assumed
the reigns of power in the CCP and were steering the
country away from international isolation, egalitari-
anism, and economic centralization, and towards
greater openness, individual initiative, and decentral-
ized marketization. Economic growth had become
Thornton draws heavily on Pierre Bourdieu’s related concept of “symbolic capital” (Weinzierl and Muggleton 2003:9).
All creative arts and artists were under the tight, authoritarian control of Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, during this period. Music, liter-
ature, sculpture, painting, drama, and other arts were all purged of “revisionist” (i.e., Western-inﬂuenced) works and limited strictly to
depicting revolutionary themes (Murphey 2001:397).
Though the Red Guards were decidedly anti-Western and propagated Maoist principles, they ironically captured the imagination of many
young people in the West. The “heroic” “revolutionary” spirit of the Red Guards impressed many youthful leftists and hippies in the U.S.
and Western Europe during the sixties and early seventies (Wassertrom 1992:287).
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 42
the new maxim for the party while the goal of ﬁnan-
cial proﬁt tied to higher productivity rates was rehab-
ilitated for people in general. Deng’s famous dictum,
“to get rich is glorious,” soon appeared to overtake
Mao’s egalitarian exhortations in party publications
As a result of Deng’s market-oriented reforms,
incomes for millions of people began to skyrocket.
GDP growth rates expanded exponentially, averaging
nine percent annually from 1978 to 2003. Rising
rates of social mobility and massive migration from
the countryside to the cities dramatically modiﬁed
urban lifestyles and spatial environments. The
transformation of numerous collective enterprises
into share-holding companies, joint ventures, and
private ﬁrms radically altered the economy, while
opening up newoccupational opportunities for many
teenagers and young adults.
Beginning in the early 1980s, new consumer
products ﬂooded the marketplace in an attempt to
satisfy rising consumer demand for non-essential
goods such as television sets, stereos, and VCRs.
Commercial advertising (guang go) - which pro-
moted a plethora of new commodities on television,
magazines, billboards, and other media - reappeared
for the ﬁrst time since the communist takeover
Young people, in particular, embraced changing
consumption patterns very quickly; thereby inducing
the widespread distribution of Western brands, styles,
and related popular culture offerings. Fashionable
clothing aimed at a burgeoning youth market - includ-
ing designer blue jeans and t-shirts emblazoned with
English language slogans and logos - were imported,
produced domestically, and worn in public by mil-
lions of young people for the ﬁrst time.
Just as teenagers in the West had become an
identiﬁable group of consumers beginning in the
1950s, Chinese youth began to exercise unpreceden-
ted consumer clout with ever-larger amounts of dis-
posable income in the 1980s. As Movius (1998) has
observed, “The freedom to have fun was combined
with the freedom to consume” (4-5).
However, economic inequality has increased to
unprecedented levels since the advent of reform.
While over a million Chinese millionaires have
emerged in China since the late 1970s, urban poverty
has become widespread (Levy, 2002:52).
now has more income polarization than does the
U.S., with the top 20 percent of Chinese households
controlling 50.2 percent of national income, in con-
trast to 44.3 percent possessed by the wealthiest ﬁfth
in the U.S. (Cao and Dai 2001:78).
There has also been a relatively large increase in
the number of young people “waiting for jobs”
(daiye qingnian), to use the common Chinese eu-
phemism for unemployment. Approximately eighty
percent of all jobless in China were young people
by the mid-nineties, compared to forty-seven percent
in 1978 (Bakken, 1995:12).
Evolution of Chinese Popular Music
In the immediate post-Mao period, the Chinese music
industry was dominated by a highly sanitized,
“politically correct,” musical genre known as tongsu
yinyue (“popularized music”). Appearing to lack
originality, tongsu records were produced by profes-
sional songsmiths and studio musicians, sanctioned
and employed by the state.
But as a result of Deng’s economic reform pro-
gram, the state-owned music industry was compelled
to place proﬁt over propaganda. By the mid-1980s,
the industry was adapting and diversifying its offer-
ings, much to the chagrin of cultural conservatives
in the party. Though the industry had ofﬁcially rejec-
ted rock music as overly “decadent,” a number of
somewhat unorthodox styles of music were soon in-
troduced, collectively known as liuxing yinyue
(popular music) (Jones 1992a:18-23).
Most notably, syrupy love songs and ballads called
gangtai (i.e., “Canto pop” records initially produced
in Taiwan and Hong Kong) were being imported and
recorded on the mainland for the ﬁrst time in the
1980s, which quickly became all the rage among
youth (Baranovitch 2003:10-11). Even so-called “jail
songs” (qiu ge), lamenting the excesses of the Cul-
tural Revolution and glamorizing the lives of former
prisoners, garnered some success in the newmusical
marketplace. The hybridized sub-genre of Northwest-
ern Wind (xibeifeng), which combined traditional
Chinese folk songs (minge) with lackluster pop mu-
sic, also generated widespread interest (Jones
1992a:17-19; Movius 1998:3-5).
Genesis of Chinese Rock and Roll
During the mid-1980s, Chinese rock music (yaogun
yinyue) was emerging surreptitiously in Beijing and
other cities, emanating from a nascent “campus cul-
ture” (xiaoyuan wenhua) that was depicted in oppos-
ition to the dominant “system culture” (zhidu wen-
In contrast to various styles and sub-genres
of liuxing, yaogun artists wrote and performed most
China has experienced one of the fastest increases in inequality rates in the world. In fact, the World Bank noted in a 1997 report that
China ranked third among major regions in the world in income inequality, surpassed only by Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa (The
Center for the Study of Democracy online at www.democ.uci.edu).
The ofﬁcial Chinese poverty rate is seven percent, but the World Bank estimates it to be around 33 percent.
For more on the differences between “campus culture” and “system culture” during this period, see Bakken 2000:332.
43 DAVID DRISSEL
of their own songs. For this reason, they tended to
viewmainstreammusical genres as lacking in authen-
In turn, communist party censors considered yao-
gun to be beyond the pale of social and ideological
acceptability. The fact that non-industry “amateurs”
- in contrast to state-employed professionals - were
performing and recording such illicit music in unreg-
ulated social spaces fueled ofﬁcial condemnations.
As Jones (1992a) has observed, yaogun operated “in
the context of an alternative public sphere, one whose
activities and ideological aims are constituted outside
of and in opposition to the mass media (and its hege-
monic boundaries)” (116).
Cui Jian, the so-called “godfather” of Chinese
rock, was the ﬁrst yaogun performer to achieve na-
tional public prominence. Like many amongst his
generation, he was initially exposed to rock music
in the early 1980s after listening to bootleg cassette
tapes that friends and acquaintances had copied from
Western originals smuggled into the mainland via
Drawing upon childhood memories of the Cultural
Revolution, Cui began writing rock songs that impli-
citly questioned his country’s state-socialist system.
His ﬁrst public performance - with his band, the
Building Blocks - was on the campus of Beijing
University in the mid-1980s, where he quickly
garnered a small but loyal following among college
students (Gluckman 2000:3).
The big breakthrough for Ciu occurred in May
1986 after competing in a major talent show held at
Beijing’s Worker’s Stadium. Appearing in tattered
Chinese military khakis before a stunned crowd of
nearly twenty thousand young people, Cui’s perform-
ance was greeted with sustained cheers and dancing
by delighted youth. Performing the song “I Have
Nothing” (Yiwu suoyou), he combined Northwest
Wind instrumentation with the forbidden Western
genre of rock (Baranovitch 2003:31-33).
The song’s lyrics included allegorical social
commentary, emphasizing an insatiable thirst for
spiritual fulﬁllment and freedom. Such an unabashed
assertion of individualism and alienation directly
challenged the socialist values of communalism and
proletarian solidarity. Notably, the song’s title and
lyrical refrains of “I have nothing” and “I’m telling
you my very last demand” strongly implied dissatis-
faction with the political and economic structures of
Cui’s novel brand of cultural syncretismin music,
combined with a highly introspective lyrical descrip-
tion of an unsatisfactory existence, quickly attracted
a cult following in Beijing and other cities (Jones
1992a:93-94). Word of his appearance spread
quickly, as bootleg cassettes of his music were copied
and disseminated covertly throughout China. Cui
followed his Worker’s Stadium appearance with
several other concerts over the next few years.
As a result of Ciu’s seminal performances and
networked ties with tens of thousands of fans, a na-
tional yaogun subculture had coalesced. Numerous
new yaogun bands such as Tang Dynasty, Black
Panther, and Mayday soon emerged, thus expanding
the inﬂuence of the new subcultural underground.
Many performers and young people adopted the rel-
atively unusual attire of “rock clothes” (yaogun
fuzhuang), which included black leather jackets, sil-
ver medallions, and long hair for men. They also
tended to exhibit “carefree, hippie-style behavior”
Rock Music at Tiananmen Square
Demands for political reformcoupled with concerns
about hyperinﬂation and other negative externalities
resulting fromeconomic reformsparked widespread
dissent, protests, and other forms of civil disobedi-
ence in Beijing and other cities beginning in April
1989. The Beijing marches, which primarily involved
young people, were prompted by the recent death of
a leading reformer, Hu Yaobang, who had been
purged fromthe communist party leadership in 1986.
Students and other protestors marched into Tianan-
men Square, located in the heart of Beijing, to com-
memorate Hu’s death. At ﬁrst hundreds, and eventu-
ally thousands, of pro-democracy protestors particip-
ated. Students camped out on the square, shouting
slogans, erecting a Goddess of Democracy statue,
issuing demands to the CCP leadership, and engaging
in hunger strikes to protest alleged oppression.
While many of China’s new rock bands avoided
the demonstrations for fear of reprisal, others fol-
lowed the lead of student demonstrators and placed
their own careers and lives on the line. As Jones
(1992a:95) has noted, “Rock music and rock musi-
cians played an active role in the movement.”
Ciu Jian, for instance, performed for youthful
hunger strikers and demonstrators at Tiananmen
Square. In addition, his records were broadcast over
loud speakers and sung repeatedly by protestors
throughout the vigil. In a manner reminiscent of the
American peace movement’s relationship with rock
and folk music in the 1960s, songs from Cui’s The
New Long March album became the unofﬁcial
soundtrack of the democracy movement.
His trademark song, “I Have Nothing,” was con-
sidered to be an informal countercultural anthemfor
demonstrators, which encouraged notions of individu-
al liberty, self-sacriﬁce, and even martyrdom. Many
students at the square reportedly cited the song as a
source of personal inspiration, which served as a
rallying cry for their political mobilization (Tong
1990:310). Importantly, the song came to symbolize
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 44
the democracy movement’s sense of having nothing
to lose and everything to gain.
In contrast to Cui’s idealistic metaphorical critique
of the communist system, other bands performing at
Tiananmen were much more militant and confronta-
tional. For instance, the punk-inﬂuenced band,
Mayday, directly attacked the political status quo in
performing the song “Garbage Dump” for student
demonstrators (Baronovitch 2003:241-243). The
song alluded to the communist system as hopelessly
corrupt, unsalvageable, and resistant to reform. Re-
ferring directly to China as a “garbage dump,” the
song observed, “We eat our consciences and its
ideology that we’re shitting.” The angry refrain of
“No! Tear it down! Is this a joke? No! Tear it down!”
evoked a gritty realism and belligerent brand of un-
diluted anarchism opposing totalitarian structures.
As the last band to perform at Tiananmen during
the vigil, Mayday’s performance seemed to embolden
the audience. Visibly moved by Mayday’s anthem-
style rallying cry, many hunger strikers and other
protestors appeared to harden their resolve and be-
come more deﬁant in their political stance.
The Subcultural Revolution
In the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square
crackdown and massacre of June 1989, many yaogun
performers and fans faced increased repression and
harassment by the authorities. But by the early 1990s,
communist ofﬁcials decided to relax ofﬁcial condem-
nations of rock music and lift decades-old media re-
strictions prohibiting “the excessive propagation of
rock” (Barme 1992:2). Prior to this time it had been
virtually impossible to purchase authentic - as op-
posed to bootleg - copies of Western record albums,
tapes, and movie videos.
The authorities evidently had begun to view pop-
ular culture as less of a threat and more of a harmless
entertainment medium, since they apparently be-
lieved that yaogun’s rebellious character had been
largely extinguished with the demise of the demo-
cracy movement. As Zha (1996) has observed, “If
political liberties were still sharply curtailed, why
not placate the masses with nightlife and other
harmless diversions?” (80).
Though the vast majority of Chinese rock musi-
cians disavowed any explicit political intent or
agenda in the years following Tiananmen, “cultural
opposition” to yayi (oppression) became an increas-
ingly common theme in yaogun song lyrics by the
early nineties. According to Jones (1992b), “Yayi
was conceived of as a cultural problem, as the stiﬂing
of individual expression, liberty, and creativity
brought about by what was seen as an authoritarian,
conformist, and ‘feudal’ cultural tradition” (151). As
one yaogun musician explained:
We don’t want to change the world, but we do
want to challenge feudalism with a kind of
spiritual liberalization, to help each individual
solve these problems on a psychological level,
through individual freedom(as quoted in Jones
During this period, “self-empowerment” became the
new buzzword among yaogun subculturists (Bar-
onovitch 2003:39). In effect, China had entered what
could be described as a subcultural revolution, which
was ostensibly apolitical, yet committed to substant-
ive socio-psychological changes designed to liberate
people from centuries of “feudal” oppression. Of
course, “feudalism” was a subcultural codeword for
ideological orthodoxy - including conservative ele-
ments within the communist party.
The new subcultural revolution was propelled in
part by the enhanced dissemination of Chinese yao-
gun beginning in the mid-1990s, as “rock parties”
began to proliferate. Formerly banned by the author-
ities, such parties became relatively common on
college campuses and other venues, serving as a new
nexus for the growth and maturation of the yaogun
In addition, restrictions on television
and radio that for years had forbidden the airing of
Western rock and pop music were lifted during this
Importantly, yaogun was beginning to spawn
other, more provocative, sub-genres and related
proto-subcultures (e.g., heavy metal, alternative rock,
punk rock); which tended to germinate primarily in
Beijing – “the rock capital of China” – before
spreading to other cities.
However, gangtai pop-ballads had become increas-
ingly popular on the mainland during the nineties,
generating signiﬁcantly greater mass appeal than
yaogun and even Western rock music (de Kloet
2005:614). This trend soon sparked an anti-gangtai
backlash from yaogun aﬁcionados, as they became
ever more critical of the new gangtai musical estab-
lishment. Yaogun musicians and fans claimed to
possess a genuinely rebellious attitude they called
yaogun jingshen (“rock spirit”), which stood in stark
contrast to the allegedly soulless, conformist, and
overly superﬁcial character of gangtai (Baronovitch
See Jones (1992a:2).
For example, MTV, Channel V, and other music video stations became available on national cable outlets for the ﬁrst time. Prior to
1992, music videos were rarely if ever seen in China and were largely banned from the airwaves (Barden 1999:3).
45 DAVID DRISSEL
Rise of New New Human Beings
As a result of China’s unofﬁcial subcultural revolu-
tion, a newtermfor young people that dress and “act
Western” has been coined: xin xinrenlei (“new new
human beings”). This term is actually a cultural hy-
brid originally based on a transliterated Japanese
subcultural term, shinjinrui,
which entered the
Chinese lexicon by way of Hong Kong and Taiwan
in the late 1990s (Wang 2008:202-203).
In many respects, xin xinrenlei is an age-cohort
term that denotes the Chinese equivalent of Genera-
tion X (i.e., young adults born between 1977 and
1989). But the termtends to be applied more speciﬁc-
ally in a subcultural sense to those teenagers and
young adults perceived to be relatively westernized
in outlook and appearance. In terms of fashion, mu-
sical tastes, and overall demeanor, xin xinrenlei are
perceived by many observers to be relatively distinct
from other Chinese - especially those who are over
the age of 30.
As the ﬁrst generation born in the post-Mao era,
xin xinrenlei have experienced the full impact of
China’s economic reforms. As “Curtis,” a 35-year
old Chinese tour guide, explained, young adults and
teenagers in particular have grown up in a substan-
tially different China. They completely missed the
Cultural Revolution and were much too young to
participate in the democracy movement protests of
the late 1980s. Most do not have any siblings, he
said, due in large measure to China’s ofﬁcial one-
child policy that was instituted in the late 1970s. For
this reason, they have had a great deal of parental
attention foisted upon them, leading, in the opinion
of Curtis and others, to a kind of “spoiled” egocentric
However, xin xinrenlei is not simply a generational
concept; but has been socially constructed to include
subcultural characteristics that are primarily bour-
geois in origin and emulative of China’s new class
of young upwardly mobile professionals (i.e., “yup-
pies” or “chuppies”
), while somewhat bohemian
As Curtis explains:
Not all young people are new new human be-
They are a totally different kind of
youth. Most of them are westernized and not
traditional. They are eager to be different and
are eager to learn new things. They have a very
open mind when it comes to the outside world,
but are closed-minded when it comes to tradi-
tional Chinese values. They have grown up with
the Internet and rock and roll.
An overwhelming majority of my youthful respond-
ents (47 out of 50) stated that they maintained a
generally positive assessment of xin xinrenlei.
“Bobby,” a 17-year old student from Shanghai, for
instance, noted emphatically that xin xinrenlei is “a
sunshine word.” As he stated, “It is a good word used
by teens for trendsetters.” Though he does not him-
self profess to be xin xinrenlei, he nonetheless con-
veyed that he has a very good impression of such
“fashionable youth with nice clothes and hair.”
“Kurt,” 20-years old from Tianjin, was mostly
favorable in his assessment of xin xinrenlei, though
he noted that such youth tend to be both “independent
and egoistic.” They often display an attitude that “it
is my turf; I make the decision,” he said.
Twenty of my respondents identiﬁed themselves
as xin xinrenlei. “Tommy,” an 18-year old student
that I met at “JJ’s Disco” - a popular Beijing dance
club, claimed to be xin xinrenlei and has an upbeat
assessment of the subculture. As he explained, “I
like being cool and adventuresome and the focus of
attention.” As an avid club kid, Tommy revealed that
he loves to dance to house music and stay up late
“hanging out” with friends and acquaintances. “But
I don’t want to ruin my life by getting in any kind
of trouble,” he added.
I noticed that many young people at the Beijing
club – including Tommy - were dressed in nice de-
signer-label clothes, while others were wearing very
bright or metallic-looking fabrics, including some
tight-ﬁtting outﬁts on young women that were occa-
sionally quite revealing.
One of Tommy’s friends at the club, 19-year old
“Sara,” was wearing a taut black t-shirt with dark
blue slacks and stylish boots. She quickly informed
me that she “loves American clothes and movies.”
Like several of my respondents who identiﬁed as xin
This termwas coined in Japan in the mid-1980s to describe the then-dominant youth culture of “conspicuous consumers,” which connoted
“new faces” or a “new human type.” As Condry (2006:124) notes, such youth were united “through their sensitivity to what is trendy and
A number of social scientists have echoed Curtis’ observations, sometimes referring to such single children as “Little Emperors” and
“Little Empresses” (e.g., Curran and Cook, 1993:306). Wang (2008:211 contends that “little emperors and empresses...are utterly spoiled
and with an overblown view of themselves.”
As Fang (2006) notes, “This new generation of ‘chuppies’ - Chinese yuppies - is riding a wave of unprecedented commercialism in the
As Wang (2008:182) notes, so-called “bobos” (or “bourgeois bohemians”) have become very trendy in China since the Chinese translation
of David Brook’s Bobos in Paradise arrived in major cities in 2002. Such folks are highly educated and typically “have one foot in the
bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success” (182-183).
Wang (2008:211) makes a similar observation, noting that xin xinrenlei “comprises only part of the single-child generation, which
numbered approximately 111.9 to 142 million as of 2005.”
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 46
xinrenlei, Sara expressed a strong interest in Britney
Spears, Madonna, and other Western pop stars, in
contradistinction to what she called “hard rock.”
In terms of Chinese music, Tommy, Sara and a
majority of xin xinrenlei to which I spoke, vastly
preferred gangtai artists such as Jay Chow and Faye
Wong, while tending to have very little or no interest
in yaogun. “Todd,” a 21-year old hotel masseuse
observed, xin xinrenlei are “fashionable, independent,
and open-minded, but not as extreme as some young
people who want to be very different.”
The Internet and “Cool” Personas
The Internet and other forms of computer-mediated
communication have facilitated the diffusion of
various Western-inﬂuenced subcultural identities,
leisure pursuits, and slang terms.
has exploded in recent years, particularly among
Chinese teenagers and young adults.
(2008:27) has observed, “the Internet is considered
to be the fastest growing advertising medium” for
the Chinese youth market.
The extensive availability of the Internet in
schools, libraries, and cafes, has resulted in millions
of Chinese young people being able to communicate
with others worldwide.
Not only are young people
experiencing Western popular culture and related
subcultures vicariously; they are actively sharing and
expanding their tastes in music, fashion, and slang
with others in a global setting.
In fact, the widespread usage among contemporary
Chinese youth of the slang term, ku (“cool”), has
been largely attributed to the pervasive inﬂuence of
the Internet and various forms of popular culture.
However, the meaning of “cool” has not been simply
copied verbatim from the West. Rather, as Moore
(2005) has noted, ku is “semantically linked to fea-
tures not associated with the meaning of the Western
term.” As he explains, ku is written with a centuries-
old Chinese character whose original meaning was
The Western and Chinese meanings of “cool” have
been hybridized in glocal usage among Chinese
young people, effectively connoting “a new kind of
individualism” that is clearly at odds with the values
and attitudes of their parents’ generation (Moore
“Safe Cool” of New New Human Beings
In spite of their non-traditional status and somewhat
unusual appearance, the presence of xin xinrenlei no
longer shocks or surprises most urban residents. In
many respects, xin xinrenlei are akin to a “neo-neo-
tribe,” whose adherents tend to engage in the con-
spicuous consumption of the “coolest” clothes,
hairstyles, nightclubs, and cell phone brands.
Many new products sold in China are actually
marketed with xin xinrenlei consumers in mind. For
example, Motorola revitalized their cell phone line
to include I-Pod technology and hip-looking youth
on billboards in 2002, “which turned Motorola into
a fashion brand overnight” (Wang 2008:225). Elegant
(2007) observes that xin xinrenlei are major con-
sumers of “cool” Western brands such as Starbucks
and Nike, but have little or no interest in securing
Wang (2008:225) refers to this type of social per-
sona as “safe cool,” which he describes as having a
“partygoing esprit” that is largely apolitical but en-
gaged in “rebellious posturing.” He quotes one young
Chinese observer who refers to xin xinrenlei as
simply “trend pursuers” that are “a superﬁcial and
restless tribe” (203).
Echoing Wang’s ﬁndings, many of my xin xinren-
lei respondents professed a strong desire to “have
fun” and “buy nice things,” while at the same time
being intent on “rebelling against tradition.” Though
several self-identiﬁed xin xinrenlei stated that they
were “unhappy” with many Chinese traditions, the
vast majority were very wary of discussing Chinese
Rejecting Traditional Norms and Values
Generally speaking, respondents who identiﬁed as
xin xinrenlei tended to be fairly optimistic about
China’s future but somewhat reluctant to follow
standard social practices involving “proper” social
customs. In particular, several expressed resentment
at the pressure they felt from parents and other au-
thority ﬁgures when it came to selecting a career
(e.g., “My parents keep telling me to major in medi-
cine, but I want to do something that’s interesting”),
engaging in romantic relationships (e.g., “We don’t
care what other people think”), and getting married
(e.g., “Older people keep telling me that I need to
The Chinese government ﬁrst began to embrace the Internet in the late 1990s as part of a larger economic development strategy designed
to “open up” the country to greater foreign investment (Hachigian 2002:41-51).
According to recent estimates, there are approximately 150 million Internet users in the People’s Republic of China (Zissi and Bhattacharji,
It is important to note that Chinese authorities have attempted to block any objectionable content on the web. The government has erected
the so-called “Golden Shield” (known in the West as the “Great Red Firewall of China) for this purpose. Problematically for the Chinese
government, the ﬁltering capabilities of the Great Firewall are often ineffective, inconsistent, and easily circumvented in actual day-to-day
operations (Hachigian 2002).
47 DAVID DRISSEL
get married, but I’m only twenty-six years old and
not in any rush”).
“Wayne,” a 28-year-old entrepreneur living in
Shanghai, seemed hesitant to label himself. But like
many in his generation, he noted that he is “both
Western and Chinese.” When asked directly, he
conceded that he has “a lot in common with xin xin-
renlei.” As he explained, “I download the latest tunes
all the time and really love to go out and party, espe-
cially on the weekends.”
Wayne noted that his parents and other older rel-
atives place a very strong premium on marriage and
carrying on the family name, and for this reason the
social pressure to marry has been mounting in recent
years. He explained that never-married people over
the age of thirty face a great deal of “shame” in
Chinese society and that divorced or cohabitating
women in particular are often stigmatized.
Like three other respondents, Wayne openly pro-
fessed his desire to become independently wealthy.
“If I’m rich then people will have to respect me,
whether I’mmarried or not,” he exclaimed. “Besides,
I really like buying nice things and showing off a bit
Up fromthe Underground: Linglei Youth
In contrast to the Western-inﬂuenced but mostly
yuppie-emulating xin xinrenlei, the more overtly
bohemian linglei (“alternative”) youth tend to push
the boundaries of social propriety to the limit. The
subcultural term, linglei, has been used with increas-
ing frequency in China in recent years, fueled in
popularity not only by underground music (dixia
yinyue), but also various novels, movies, magazine
articles, and websites; which to a large extent have
reframed the concept’s meaning in popular discourse.
Originally the term was clearly pejorative; often
associated with disreputable hooligans, hoodlums,
loafers, and other riffraff categorized as liumang.
Labeled as “the other species,” linglei people were
almost uniformly viewed with distain and disrespect
(Beech 2004). But within the past decade or so, a
growing number of subcultural entrepreneurs have
proudly admitted to being linglei, thereby seeking
to redeﬁne the term as an “alternative lifestyle” that
is hip and cool.
In many respects, the concept of linglei has been
imbued with newhybridized meanings reﬂecting the
nonconformist - yet somewhat cautious - demeanor
of post-Tiananmen youth, coupled with the deﬁant
symbolismand iconoclastic narratives of youth sub-
cultures originating in the West.
Linglei’s Alternative Rock Influences
One major trend that has contributed to the birth of
the linglei subculture is the fragmentation of yaogun
yinue into new and distinct Chinese musical sub-
genres such as linglei yaogun (“alternative rock”)
and pangke yaogun (“punk rock”).
Linglei yaogun was modeled after the underground
musical style that was ﬁrst popularized in the U.S.
and Great Britain in the early 1990s. Many linglei
bands with Western alternative-sounding names (e.g.,
The Breathing, Overload, The Dreaming, and The
Compass) made their debut in the mid-nineties. Like
its namesake in the U.S. and U.K., Chinese alternat-
ive rock has focused on lyrics of youthful alienation,
emotional introspection, and generational discontent
with mainstream society.
The Seattle grunge scene of the early nineties that
espoused a nonconformist vision of post-modern
angst has heavily inﬂuenced many linglei bands.
Surprisingly, a fairly widespread “cult of personality”
craze arose amongst Chinese young people in the
mid-nineties that was devoted to the “heroic” Kurt
Cobain – the tormented lead singer of the grunge
band Nirvana who had committed suicide in 1994
In fact, several Chinese bands with strong Nirvana
inﬂuences were included on the CD, Linglei pinpan
(“Alternative Compilation”), released in 1996 (Huot
2000:165). The album – which was the ﬁrst compil-
ation of its kind - effectively disseminated the newly
redeﬁned concept of linglei as a “cool” subculture
into college dormitories, student unions, bars, and
various other urban spaces populated by young
people across the country.
Linglei’s Punk Rock Influences
By the late nineties, many linglei youth had begun
gravitating to punk rock, assuming a decidedly “punk
look” in terms of their appearance. As was the case
with alternative rock, a hybridized version of Chinese
punk (pangke) had emerged on the scene, particularly
in Beijing. New Chinese independent record labels
buoyed pangke’s ascendancy, along with nightclubs
that began featuring riotous bands, tattooed youth
with spiked hair and leather jackets, and moshing in
The initial social epicenter for Beijing pangke was
the “Scream Club,” a dingy live music bar located
near Beijing University. Not easy to ﬁnd for the un-
initiated, the club was situated amid dark allies and
corridors of the district, next to seedy hair salons and
suspicious-looking massage parlors.
As Barme (1999:63-64) notes, “In modern Chinese usage, liumang is a word with some of the most negative connotations in the language.”
As he explains, the word refers to “antisocial behavior” and “a category of crime.”
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 48
When I visited the Scream Club on a hot summer
night during my ﬁrst trip to China in July 2000, I
witnessed youths dressed in punk attire moshing in
the pit and pumping their ﬁsts to the hyperkinetic
beat of the Beijing-based band, Anarchy Jerks. Even
though the club was technically legal, I was told that
the owners and patrons were frequently subjected to
surprise visits and inspections from the authorities.
Soon after I returned to the U.S., I found that
pangke’s underground popularity in China had been
bolstered considerably by the August 2000 release
of the ﬁrst-ever compilation CD of Beijing punk
entitled “Bored Contingent” (Wuliao Jundui). The
CDincluded songs by seminal Beijing pangke bands
such as Anarchy Jerks, Brian Failure, the Reﬂector,
Paradoxically, many pangke bands have publicly
promulgated iconoclastic imagery and anarchist
symbolism in their songs, yet are seemingly
apathetic about engaging in direct political action.
The very name of the compilation, “Bored Contin-
gent,” reﬂects this dualism of being militant about
cultural change and yet apparently disinterested in
politics. As Anarchy Jerks’ lead singer states, “We
have no freedom of speech, so our way to rebel is to
not care, and just do what we like to do”(as quoted
in Loewenberg 2000:1).
In “Revolution,” one of 69’s most controversial
songs, the band compares events that occurred during
the Cultural Revolution to the present era. The song’s
lyrics (“All we do is have fun, life is too short.”)
seemto equate the ideological excesses of the sixties
with the rampant materialism of today’s youth.
However, 69’s lead singer explains that the band
does not support “any kind of revolution like Chair-
man Mao – we needn’t kill anyone.” As he notes, “I
should call it a ‘head revolution.’ If we change
ourselves, we change this country’s future (as quoted
in Tannenbaum 1998:72).
Linglei’s Hip-Hop Influences
Another relatively new but important inﬂuence in
the development of linglei has been hip-hop music
( xīha yinue ). By the late-nineties Western hip-hop
had become increasingly prevalent in China’s cities,
due in large measure to the mammoth importation
and sale of dakou CDs
on the urban black market.
Interestingly, the Chinese termfor rap, shuochang,
was borrowed from a traditional Chinese word that
literally means “narrative.” Since the start of the
2000s, several Chinese shuochang bands have
emerged in Shanghai, Beijing, and other major cities.
Red Star, for instance, is a Shanghai-based hip-hop
trio whose lead singer/rapper claims that he “does it
for the music, not the money;” noting that it is very
difﬁcult to secure radio airplay for hop-hop when
“saccharine pop music” remains so dominant
In response to gangtai’s monopolistic position on
Chinese radio and production facilities, several hip-
hop entrepreneurs have sought to utilize alternative
methods for producing and disseminating their music.
For example, DJ V-Nutz recently opened “The Lab”–
a nonproﬁt music studio in Shanghai - for the pur-
pose of developing a uniquely Chinese hip-hop style
that would effectively challenge the musical status
quo. In addition, hip-hop artists and fans have begun
broadcasting their tunes on Internet pod casts,
thereby circumventing the overly commercialized
dictates of Chinese radio station managers (Trindle
Notably, hip-hop-style breakdancing (zhanwu)
groups have emerged on the streets of many Chinese
cities in the past few years, with some participants
even incorporating Kung Fu moves into their dance
routines (Florcruz 2004); thus creating a cultural
hybrid of sorts. So-called “voluptuous dancing”
(saowu) – inﬂuenced by provocative back-up dancers
seen in hip-hop music videos imported fromthe West
- has also become much more common in Chinese
dance clubs in recent years (Farrer 1999:154).
During my ﬁrst trip to China in July 2000, I ob-
served very little hip-hop music or related dance
styles and fashion accessories in stores, nightclubs,
or other venues. However, this had changed substan-
tially by the summer of 2005, as I spied numerous
CDs of American hip-hop luminaries such as Em-
inem and the Black-Eyed Peas on record store
shelves. I also sawmany young men wearing stylish
sportswear with American teamlogos; and witnessed
DJs playing hip-hop music blaring in various
nightclubs across the country with young people
engaged in saowu on the dance ﬂoor.
While in Shanghai, I spotted a huge English-lan-
guage poster touting hip-hop music under the banner
of “Friday Night Friction” at Club Pegasus, which
included an image of a scantily clad young woman
dancing sensuously while wearing headphones.
At a glitzy nightclub in Guilin that serves mainly
Budweiser beer, I witnessed an all-girl rap trio that
repeatedly used English-language expletives and re-
ferred to various sexual situations in their songs,
apparently for dramatic effect. I noted that one song
speciﬁcally discussed seemingly intractable problems
at school, while another dealt with sexual inﬁdelity.
Seemingly oblivious to any potential legal or social
risks in uttering such controversial and suggestive
lyrics in a public place, the rappers encouraged the
club’s patrons to “get up and dance.”
These are surplus or defective “cut” CDs that were slated to be destroyed in the West, but have been shipped into China by the millions
and sold illegally over the past ﬁfteen years or so. See de Kloet (2005).
49 DAVID DRISSEL
Linglei’s Literary Influences
In the literary realm, self-described linglei wenxue
(“alternative literature”) writers such as Wei Hui
(Shanghai Baby) and Chun Sue (Beijing Doll) have
championed an ostensibly de-politicized form of
subcultural prose. Known popularly as “babe
writers,” such young women have made a major so-
cial impact on Chinese popular culture and provoked
intense controversy with their incredibly frank nov-
Wei’s semi-autobiographical tome, published in
1999, celebrates feminine sexual desire and critiques
the dominant conformist values of Chinese society.
Because of alleged “pornographic” content, the
novel was ofﬁcially banned in China by communist
party censors, but nonetheless became an instant best
seller via the underground economy (Kong 2005:110-
111; Farrer 2002:32-33).
The main character/narrator of Shanghai Baby,
“Coco,” lives a reputedly “alternative lifestyle,” co-
habiting with her drug-addicted, impotent boyfriend
while having secret sexual liaisons with a sadistic
German businessman whom she describes as being
“built like a Nazi” and having “a frightfully large
member.” Claming to be a “liberated woman,” Coco
explains her inﬁdelity thusly: “Finding a man who
you love and another man who can give you orgasms
is the best solution” (Wei 1999:87).
In the novel, Coco hangs out with yaogun musi-
cians and listens to Western alternative/punk bands
such as Sonic Youth. She even has sex with her
German lover in a toilet stall at an underground
Shanghai nightclub. Coco deﬁantly asserts her linglei
identity with impunity and pride, noting the wide
range of reactions that her “tribe” elicits from main-
As she asserts:
We were maggots feeding on the city’s bones,
but utterly sexy ones. The city’s bizarre roman-
ticismand genuine sense of poetry were actually
created by our tribe. Some call us linglei; others
damn us as trash; some yearn to join us, and
imitate us in every way they can, from clothes
and hairstyle to speech and sex; others swear
at us and tell us to take our dog-fart lifestyles
and disappear (Wei 1999:235).
Though fellowbabe writer, Mian Mian, has criticized
Wei for “shamelessly” commercializing linglei and
turning “the painful experiences” of “real alternative
youth” into mere kitsch (Kong 2005:204), Shanghai
Baby undoubtedly has fueled the transformation of
linglei into a pop culture phenomenon.
“Dropping Out” of the System
Several linglei novels have focused attention on
China’s highly competitive, yet overly conformist,
education system. For example, Han Han – a
Shanghai high school dropout – authored the best-
selling semi-autobiographical novel, The Third Way
(1999), at age seventeen. In the book, he intensely
criticizes the educational status quo, advocating an
“alternative path to success” (Kong: 2005:51).
As a result of his immense book royalties, Han
has become independently wealthy, yet continues to
criticize “the normal, boring road” traveled by most
Chinese. “It’s my choice to do what I want and go
where I want,” he stated in reference to his “radical”
lifestyle. “Nobody can tell me what to do” (as quoted
in Beech 2004).
Similarly, Chun Sue - who was seventeen when
she wrote the highly popular Beijing Doll (2002) –
has focused her ire on the college entrance exam
(gaokao). Under this repressive rote-memorization
scheme, as described in agonizing detail in Chun’s
semi-autobiographical novel, only one in four
Chinese students gains admittance to college; due in
part to intense competition for a very limited number
of places. The so-called “narrowing gate” phenomen-
or the winnowing of students through compet-
itive placement, effectively limits educational oppor-
tunities for the majority.
For Chun, such rampant educational conformity
and exclusionary practices were too much to bear,
explaining in Beijing Doll that her “disgusting”
school had only one rule: “obedience, yes; explana-
tions, no” (viii). Like Han, Chun dropped out of
school at a relatively young age, but has no regrets.
What’s most important, she claims, is “self-expres-
sion” and “how to choose a path that ﬁts one’s own
individual identity” (as quoted in Beech 2004).
Signiﬁcantly, job prospects are often seriously
compromised for young people lacking adequate
credentials in higher education. Moreover, the poten-
tial strain of dishonor and family stigmatization can
be enormous and devastating for those who are shut
out of the system of higher education (Curran and
Cook, 1993:304-305). Even when employed, under-
educated young people become particularly vulner-
able to the “vagaries of the labor market” and are
typically the ﬁrst to be laid off (Hanser 2002:198).
Such economic and social conditions have fueled
the growing ranks of alternative youth, many of
whom have opted to rebel (at least tacitly) by reject-
ing the gaokao system altogether. As Wang
(2008:230) has observed, Chun, Han, and other self-
identiﬁed linglei authors have made “‘high school
For a description of the impact of this novel and others on youth in Shanghai, see Farrer (2002:32-33).
This termwas coined in Taiwan where competition with other students intensiﬁes as each grade is completed, with opportunities to attend
the “better schools” seriously contested from a young age.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 50
dropouts’ a newsocial segment to be reckoned with.”
Many such dropouts “seek solace” by embracing
punk rock and other alterative music scenes, Wang
In addition, a growing number of Chinese young
people have engaged in delinquent behavior. Over
the past fewdecades, juvenile delinquency rates have
though remaining relatively low by
Drug-related offenses, in
particular, have shown a marked increase, especially
among youthful offenders. The number and size of
youth gangs have proliferated, with a growing pro-
portion of offenders identifying themselves as gang
members. Though Chinese gangs are mostly informal
cliques, others have developed with clearly deﬁned
leaders, membership rosters, territorial turf, and
esoteric initiation rites (Zhang et al, 1997:292-294).
Standing Out From the Crowd
The vast majority of young people interviewed for
this study (42 out of 50) generally had a relatively
positive assessment of linglei, noting that the term
has undergone a dramatic redeﬁnition in recent years
and become “cool.” Notably, several respondents
emphasized that linglei is not simply external (e.g.,
bizarre clothes, piercings, tattoos, dyed hair) but also
internal. Linglei were said to be independent thinkers
and above all individualists, living their lives as they
see ﬁt within an otherwise highly collectivist, con-
Several respondents stressed that linglei youth
tend to reject the traditional values of their parents,
particularly when it comes to such issues as premarit-
al sex, cohabitation, marriage, divorce, the role of
women, homosexuality, and job security.
In contrast to most non-linglei respondents, those
self-identifying as linglei (fourteen respondents)
tended to have alternative tastes in music, broadly
deﬁned. Rock music in general and punk/alternative
rock in particular was favored by eleven out of
fourteen linglei youths interviewed. Several respond-
ents also indicated a fondness for hip-hop, heavy
metal, house music, and/or techno.
Nineteen year-old “Derek,” a 20 year-old college
student fromBeijing clad in a “High Times”
who self-identiﬁes as linglei, said that he embraced
the subculture primarily because he wanted to be
“special,” “unique,” and “stand out fromthe crowd.”
He explained that many linglei youth select a partic-
ular hobby, musical genre, “extreme” sport (e.g.,
skateboarding, rollerblading, break dancing), or
academic niche in order to enhance their uniqueness
and differentiate themselves from mainstream soci-
ety. Even basketball has acquired a certain level of
popularity among many linglei youth, he noted, with
the site of baggy-clothed homeboys playing ball in
outdoor courts increasingly commonplace throughout
Derek cited an example of a friend who learned
to speak a relatively obscure African tribal dialect,
apparently hoping to gain special recognition from
his subcultural peers and cohorts. Like many linglei
youth, Derek admitted to being a fan of Western al-
ternative rock, heavy metal, and rap, with his favorite
group, Linkin Park, being a hybrid of those three
genres. “Things have changed a lot in the last two
or three years,” he said. “More young people are into
hip-hop and rap.” He noted that his 16-year-old
younger brother is “even more linglei and can recite
many American rap lyrics by heart.”
However, in spite of his proclivity for American
popular culture, Derek was intensely critical of
American foreign policy, particularly in Iraq. As he
stated emphatically: “Saddam Hussein was a hero
because he stood up to the U.S.”
Similarly, “Edison” - a 17-year old youth clad in
a white t-shirt emblazoned with large red “CCCP”
letters (symbolizing the former Soviet Union) - pro-
fessed to be linglei. I met Edison on a Shanghai
basketball court and found him to be soft-spoken,
intelligent, and very friendly. He told me that he had
recently visited Russia and was exploring various
international options for college because the Chinese
education system is “too traditional.”
Like Derek, Edison is a huge fan of Western music
– particularly hardcore punk and heavy metal – but
was highly critical of what he termed “American
imperialism.” As he stated, “I do not like the Amer-
ican government, but I like the American people.”
I talked to a group of four young people in their
late teens in Xian who claimed that most Chinese
youth are linglei. This statement prompted me to ask
how they determined whether or not a person is
linglei. “Just look at us,” 18-year-old “Sheila” said.
“We are all linglei.” But aside from her earrings and
The number of reported delinquent perpetrators younger than eighteen years of age increased from 112,063 in 1985 to a high of 205,046
in 1989. Though such perpetrators had decreased to 152,755 by 1995, this ﬁgure was still signiﬁcantly higher than that found in the pre-
reform period (Xiang 1999:61-63).
However, juvenile delinquency rates as a percentage of overall criminal activity rank very high in comparison to other countries. Bakken
(1995) notes that Chinese juveniles aged fourteen to eighteen commit offenses at two to three times the ratio of youth in other countries
“High Times” is a well-known U.S.-based magazine that focuses on marijuana cultivation and use.
It is noteworthy that Yao Ming – Shanghai’s own “homeboy” superstar for the Houston Rockets – has become a subcultural symbol of
national pride, particularly among urban Chinese youth. While in China during the summer of 2005, I noticed numerous male teens in
Houston Rockets’ jerseys. Most tellingly, Yao Ming’s photo adorns posters plastered on the exterior and interior walls of McDonald’s
Restaurants throughout the country, hawking a burgeoning fast-food revolution.
51 DAVID DRISSEL
relatively hip Western attire, Sheila seemed no dif-
ferent than most Chinese young people I had en-
countered. The other three teens were decidedly less
emphatic on the subject of linglei but nonetheless
concurred that the values of young people are sub-
stantially different from those of their elders.
When I asked if she believed in Marxism, Sheila
quickly said “no way;” nonetheless noting that her
parents still believe in such principles. “Marxism is
old fashioned,” she said disdainfully, “but some
people take advantage of others in China’s new
economy.” In addition, Sheila expressed her deep
displeasure with the U.S. system. “America’s making
many mistakes in the world,” she stated. “Why did
America invade Iraq? That was very foolish.”
Punk Rock’s Nonconformity
In an effort to ﬁnd young people that self-identify
as linglei, I visited punk rock-oriented nightclubs
and concerts in Beijing, Guillin, and other cities. As
I entered a smoke-ﬁlled Beijing punk club with the
iconic name “Mao Livehouse,” a local hardcore band
was nearing the end of its ﬁnal set. It appeared as
though an unruly mob of slam dancers gyrating in
front of the stage had became agitated by the slowing
A few minutes later, a young tattooed youth
(“Brad”) told me that he enjoyed moshing “more
than anything else.” As he explained: “When I mosh,
I feel alive and not like the yuppies that do the same
boring stuff everyday.” Sporting a Ramones t-shirt,
Brad remarked that he enjoyed being “different” in
a country full of “conformists.” “I like being myself,”
he proclaimed. “Punk rock gives me the freedom to
However, Brad lamented that his parents did not
approve of his “hobby,” noting that they were
ashamed of his spiked hair, tattoos, and otherwise
unorthodox appearance. “But I have to live my own
life,” he stated.
Several self-identiﬁed linglei youths declared that
they felt intense social pressure to conform, but res-
isted the urge to do so because they wanted to rebel
against the overly materialistic ethos of the New
China. I talked to 24-yeard old “Ian,” for instance,
who told me that he hated “disco” dance clubs in
Beijing that cater mainly to yuppies and “fashion-
able” youth (i.e., xin xinrenlei).
In addition, Ian complained about China’s educa-
tional systemand its “unfair” college entrance exam.
Revealing that he had dropped out of school several
years ago, Ian admitted that he has been only
sporadically employed since that time.
Noting that he had become increasingly irritated
and aggravated with society, Ian cited the song
“Fucking Disco” by the pangke band, Brain Failure,
as summing up his feelings best. The song’s lyrics
refer directly to the allegedly egocentric and banal
values of many Chinese youth:
Welcome to the disco generation. Ha! Ha! Ha!
In this rich city, there is only one society. You
like your fucking disco. You like your fucking
disco. In this peaceful city, we had a war once
so we could make a better society. We construc-
ted a city that belonged to the people. Oh!
Fucking disco! I smash fucking disco! I smash
fucking, fucking disco! I smash fucking disco!
Once disco is gone, good riddance. Yeah gener-
ation of shit! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Distinctive Individuality of Linglei Youth
One common theme found throughout my interviews
with linglei youth was the importance placed on the
construction and afﬁrmation of a unique individual
persona. Particularly in terms of clothing, attitudes,
lifestyle, hobbies, sports, musical tastes, dance styles,
etc., respondents often emphasized the importance
of ﬁnding one’s own special niche.
Muggleton (2000:63) refers to this process as
“‘distinctive individuality,’ the way that subculturists
highlight their individuality through a distinction
from a collective reference group.” By tacitly pro-
claiming themselves as “insiders” within a subcul-
ture, adherents seek to differentiate or self-exclude
from a larger or rival segment of society.
For example, many linglei respondents sought to
distinguish themselves from perceived out-groups
such as “the crowd,” “traditional Chinese,” “yup-
pies,” “gangtai fans,” “disco,” “schools,” “parents,”
and even the U.S. government. Though identifying
with a subculture indicates the presence of shared
stylistic features, linglei respondents tended to deﬁne
their own individuality in contradistinction to an
opposing category of people, institutions, or ideo-
logy. Though most linglei respondents were not dir-
ectly critical of xin xinrenlei, several indicated their
opposition to the materialist ethos of the New China
- which is often associated with xin xinrenlei.
An apparent individualized incentive for identify-
ing with the linglei subculture revealed by respond-
ents was the potential to receive status-based acclaim
from like-minded others. For instance, Derrick’s
“High Times” t-shirt or his younger brother’s rapping
abilities could potentially generate respect and notori-
ety from subcultural cohorts. Demonstrating the
ability to slam-dance in a mosh pit, as Brad men-
tioned, would qualify as well. Even Ian’s referencing
of an anti-disco song conveyed important knowledge
of pangke music’s oppositional ideology, which is
highly prized by many subcultural cohorts.
Such subcultural capital is based on what Austin
(2001) calls a “prestige economy.” As he notes, indi-
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 52
vidual status and rank within subcultures (or “com-
munities of familiars”) are dependent upon group-
based recognition. Though linglei respondents were
often critical of pecuniary emulation, they nonethe-
less indicated a desire for individualized forms of
recognition by their subcultural peers. Consuming
or displaying “authentic” (i.e., alternative) commod-
ities was viewed favourably by most linglei respond-
ents, while “superﬁcial” displays of highly expensive
or “mainstream” commodities were often depicted
in a negative light.
In a study involving the role of “hierarchic self-
interest” (i.e., hyper-individualism) in shaping Ger-
man youth subcultures, Hagan et al (1998) found
that such sentiments were particularly pronounced
in the former (post- communist) German Democratic
Republic, which had recently experienced a relatively
rapid transition from a state-socialist system to a
market economy. The authors determined that youth
in the former East Germany were much more likely
than their West German counterparts to express an
afﬁnity for “subterranean values” (e.g., risk-taking,
adventure, excitement, hedonism, and thrill seeking),
often tied to extreme manifestations of capitalism.
According to Hagan et al (1998), the globalization
of market forces has engendered new value contra-
dictions and a heightened potential for “anomic
amorality” (i.e., the erosion of traditional norms)
among youth within transitional societies. The au-
thors found that East German youth were “more
vulnerable” than their West German counterparts to
“the accentuation, exaggeration, and distortion of
these market-driven values,” thus providing fertile
ground for escalating rates of deviant and delinquent
In recent decades, China has undergone a similar
transition from a highly centralized economy to one
that is largely based on market precepts, though
without any commensurate political reforms.
Moreover, traditional Maoist values of communalism
and collectivism are still emphasized to some extent
as a source of political legitimacy by the current re-
gime. Such inherent contradictions in ofﬁcial values
likely have had an anomic impact on the norms of
Chinese youth, as evidenced by the proliferation of
youth subcultures and rising rates of juvenile delin-
quency found throughout the country (Drissel 2006).
Traditional Youth and Ambiguous
Several youthful respondents (12 out of 50) claimed
to be “traditional” or “normal” (i.e., non-Westernized
and/or non-subcultural) and often expressed concern
about the tendency of linglei youth in particular to
reject social norms and spurn the authority of parents
and teachers. As “Sue” a 17-year-old high school
student from Haining explained, “In China, we em-
phasize the importance of children always listening
to their parents; but linglei youth have their own
ideas.” “Dan,” a 20-year old college student from
Tianjin described himself as “studious” and “polite,”
in contradistinction to linglei youth that are “always
against their teachers or parents.”
“Tom,” a 17-year-old from Xian, claimed that
linglei youth care only about themselves and tend to
be very selﬁsh. Despite his critical comments, Tom
stated ardently that he is “interested in all things
American.” Sporting short spiked hair and an “Ad-
ventures of Tintin” (an English-language animated
series) t-shirt; he seemed to be an unlikely critic of
linglei. Like many of the young people interviewed,
he appeared to be somewhat conﬂicted in his values,
expressing views that seemed contradictory at times.
“Watch out for beggars,” he warned me. “They do
not deserve your money.”
Interestingly, several respondents who self-identi-
ﬁed as “traditional” seemed somewhat inﬂuenced
by the linglei phenomenon and were at times ambigu-
ous about their own social identity. Certainly, subcul-
tures are not homologous or bounded entities; thus
they are often subject to vague or even conﬂicting
classiﬁcations and typologies – especially by non-
or rival-subculturalists. In some cases, young people
may internally or externally adopt important aspects
of a particular subcultural identity, but refuse to label
themselves or acknowledge any overt subcultural
afﬁnity due to societal or parental constraints. As
Weeks (1990) states, “each of us lives with a variety
of potentially contradictory identities which battle
within us for allegiance.”
For example, “Wendy,” an 18-year-old Xian col-
lege student originally from a relatively small city
in southern China, recalls how she argued with her
mother over whether or not she could pierce her ears
and wear earrings. Though not claiming to be linglei
herself, she explained that earrings – or for that
matter any kind of body piercing – were viewed as
linglei, especially by her parents’ generation. She
admitted with some regret that she eventually suc-
cumbed to her mother’s wishes.
“Marla,” a 19-year-old originally from a small
village in western China, who attends college in
Hangzhou, self-identiﬁed as a “traditional girl.” She
associated linglei with brightly dyed hair and reveal-
ing clothes and said that she was “common” in
But Marla conceded nonetheless that she is much
more “modern” and “Western” than her parents,
proudly noting that she enjoys listening to the
Backstreet Boys and other Western pop artists. She
also revealed that her 17-year-old younger brother
is a huge fan of “hard rock bands” such as U2 and
Nirvana and “is probably linglei.”
53 DAVID DRISSEL
Liminality and Subcultural Identities
The increasingly strong emphasis on individuality
among contemporary Chinese youth – in contrast to
the collectivism of youth in the Maoist past – has
apparently resulted in a clear hesitancy to embrace
any single subcultural label or style. Though many
respondents indicated that having a deﬁnitive subcul-
tural identity was a primary source of their individu-
ality (i.e., differentiating them from hegemonic tra-
ditions and dominant groups), others revealed that a
single subcultural identity would overly constrain
them; thus the need for some sort of multi-subcultural
synthesis in their own lives.
This social-psychological tendency can be de-
scribed as liminality, which refers to “literally being
on the threshold, in no-man’s land, between clear
social identities” (Martin 1985:50). The result can
be the creation of new “liminal subcultures” that
further blur existing subcultural boundaries
Along these lines, eight respondents indicated that
they were “not quite linglei,” and instead preferred
the “less extreme” label of xin xinrenlei for that
reason. For instance, “George,” a 21-year-old English
teacher from Yichang, admitted to being “a little bit
linglei, but not completely.” He said that he preferred
to identify as xin xinrenlei, which he described as a
more general category than linglei that includes
people who are “somewhat fashionable and very
open minded.” He explained that linglei tend to be
“more extreme” in their appearance than xin xinren-
lei, though not always. As he stated:
Some young people are linglei on the inside but
not outside, while others are linglei at night but
not during the day. They are afraid that they
may be ﬁred from their jobs if they are obvi-
Disco, Ravers, and Gay Youth
Many of the linglei and xin xinrenlei youth that
George knows are ravers and club kids, who often
go out dancing at high-energy “disco” clubs where
DJs spin house music, techno, and other Western-
inﬂuenced electronic genres. Visiting such clubs in
Beijing, Guilin, and other cities, I observed mostly
individualized and/or group dancing akin to raves
(i.e., without obvious dance partners or couples),
mixed with a great deal of camaraderie, spontaneity,
sensuality, and even homoeroticism. I discovered
that some discos have special “gay nights” and “les-
bian nights” scheduled once or twice per week.
As Farrer (1999) has observed, “the culture of
disco” (disike) often succeeds in mixing straights
and gays in a “sexually ﬂuid atmosphere.” Chinese
discotheques, in this regard, are supra-cultural cos-
mopolitan sites involved in the “global circulation
of sexual imagery and practices through commercial
practices – especially dance” (149-150).
George explained that gay men, lesbians, bisexu-
als, and even cohabitating “straight” couples are of-
ten labeled as linglei due to their reputed “alternative
lifestyles.” As was mentioned earlier, the pressure
to marry and have a child is extremely intense, par-
ticularly from one’s parents. George and several
other respondents complained that parents and other
authority ﬁgures often strongly encourage their off-
spring to abandon such “taboo” “Western” orienta-
tions and practices. “Gay people (tongzhi)
by society as having ‘no face,’” he said. “They en-
counter a great deal of prejudice in everyday life.”
George noted that one of his best friends is gay
whom he says lives in fear of being discovered.
Another respondent, seventeen-year old “Sid,”
revealed his homosexuality to me but remains
closeted to his family and many of his schoolmates.
“I didn’t tell my family that I’m gay because I was
worried; my mother often told me that one day I
would get married,” he explained; “But I can’t marry
in China, so I think I will have to keep this a secret.”
In his view, linglei is synonymous with “being abnor-
mal” (buzhengchang). But Sid rejected the linglei
label for himself, even though homosexuality has
traditionally been depicted in China as
“I don’t think I’m linglei because
I think being gay is normal,” he said. “Different
people love in different styles.”
Panni (Rebels) Without a Cause
In the course of conducting my research, I discovered
another subcultural term for youth, panni (“rebel”
or “rebellious”). The origin and descriptors of a panni
identity were less clear than those of linglei or xin
xinrenlei, but nonetheless served as a liminal subcul-
tural category for four respondents, all young men.
“William,” an 18-year-old student at Shanghai
University, proudly proclaimed his status as panni
but rejected the linglei label. In his opinion, linglei
were mostly “high school dropouts.” Though claim-
ing to be a “rebel” in many respects, he was dressed
in relatively modest and decidedly non-provocative
One respondent explained that the term tongzhi originally meant only “comrade” (in a communist party sense of term), particularly
during the Mao era. But in recent years has the term become a popular codeword for homosexuals, he noted.
Geyer (2002:265) explains that the traditional Chinese view that homosexuality is “abnormal” is based primarily on “the strong Chinese
bias toward heterosexual marriage and procreation.” Western medical science and psychiatry only served to strengthen this viewpoint in
the 20th century. However, after years of legal persecution, homosexuality was legalized in 1997 and the Chinese Psychiatry Association
ﬁnally removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 54
Western attire. He said that he enjoys “challenging
authority,” especially when he is told that “he cannot
or should not do something.”
As a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys and Michael
Jackson, William’s brand of “rebellion” seemed tame
by Western standards. But like many young people
interviewed, he appeared overly concerned about his
future employment prospects and for this reason
avoided the fashion and style associated with linglei.
“Ivan,” a 27-year old single male who works as a
tour guide, admitted to being panni, but seemed to
do so reluctantly. Panni youth often tend to disobey
orders from authority ﬁgures, he said, which some-
times generates friction. Ivan noted that many
Chinese parents are very strict and for that reason
easily disappointed in the life choices made by their
children. “My father thinks I am panni because I do
not work for a state-owned company,” he observed.
“But I like challenges and am not yet ready to settle
Fourteen-year old “Brian” from Beijing claimed
to be panni since he “disagrees with the old rules
and old viewpoints.” As he noted, “I often refuse to
listen to my parents or teachers, since their advice
cannot ﬁt today’s situation.”
From “Safe Cool” to “Unsafe Cool”
As was mentioned earlier, there has been an obvious
attempt by many Western and Chinese ﬁrms to
market their products to Chinese youth by invoking
various “safe cool” subcultural styles and sensibilities
in advertising campaigns. Wang (2008) offers several
examples of such ﬁrms’ brand positioning strategies,
including the new “Fifth Season” sports drink that
was marketed a few years ago by utilizing various
“alternative” urban metaphors. As he notes, “The
brand plays successfully on the concept of linglei,
the Chinese term for the ‘(alternative) other,’ now a
powerful marketing concept for lifestyle categories
in China” (72).
While in China, I saw several examples of such
alternative marketing campaigns by various corpor-
ations; including an eye-catching Pepsi advertisement
depicting several presumably linglei youths with
spiked hair, dressed in neon-blue skin-tight outﬁts
and engaged in highly sensual poses; which was
plastered on many storefronts and street corners in
Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities.
Not surprisingly, most young people that I ob-
served were indeed conspicuous consumers of vari-
ous products and cultural objects - particularly those
that are valued by their subcultural peers. While xin
xinrenlei respondents seemed to be more concerned
with external expressions of upward mobility (i.e.,
brand name clothing or trendy cell phones) than their
more bohemian linglei counterparts, members of
both subcultures noted a strong desire to impress
others through individualized representations of
However, my ﬁndings indicated that such “rebel-
lious posturing” (to use Wang’s terminology) is often
accompanied by strong sentiments of resentment
against the “cultural” status quo, especially among
linglei youth. Though respondents for the most part
were careful not to criticize the government or com-
munist party directly; their self-professed “rebellion”
against traditional practices, the college entrance
exam, and economic inequality, certainly contained
many implicit political connotations.
While an increasingly large number of commodit-
ies in China are indeed marketed by various ﬁrms as
“safe cool” and therefore consumed by subcultural
youth, other objects and ideas remain on the peri-
phery of Chinese society and established norms; i.e.,
Risk-Taking and Thrill-Seeking
There appears to be a growing tendency among
Chinese urban youth to engage in potentially precari-
ous and/or taboo activities, which are seemingly in-
dicative of subterranean values such as risk-taking
and thrill-seeking. As Yang, lead singer of the
Beijing pangke band, P.K. 14, asserted, “We want
to be a dangerous band…but because the government
doesn’t care about us, we are not forbidden from
playing” (as quoted in Fan 2006).
Examples of such “unsafe cool” practices that I
either observed or discussed with respondents include
moshing, singing explicit lyrics, accessing or publish-
ing provocative websites, couples kissing in public,
writing or possessing “pornographic” novels, using
illicit drugs, dropping out of school, being unem-
ployed, absenteeism, and tardiness.
Exhibiting tattoos and body piercings, which are
considered taboo by a majority of the Chinese
would also qualify as “unsafe cool.” I
saw tattooed youth on only a few occasions while in
China, most notably while visiting punk rock clubs.
When linglei subculturists publicly display such
symbols, they are directly rebelling against social
conventions and resisting dominant narratives of
“appropriate” conduct sanctioned by governmental
Likewise, illegal grafﬁti was scrawled on tenement
walls in most of the Chinese cities that I visited –
often combining billowing hip-hop-style writing
(similar to what is found in many cities in the West)
with Chinese characteristics. I observed that the
For more information about China’s burgeoning tattoo scene, see “Rebel Ink,” The Guardian (November 12, 2004), online at http://arts.guard-
55 DAVID DRISSEL
punk-afﬁliated anarchy (“A”) symbol was spray-
painted in several locations – even above the entrance
to a college campus in Guilin. But the most common
form of urban grafﬁti appeared to be mobile phone
numbers that were scrawled or plastered on walls
and buildings in virtually every city, presumably for
the purpose of facilitating contacts between potential
buyers and sellers of illicit products in the under-
“Jim,” a 15-year old Muslim lad that I met near a
Xian mosque, was wearing a bright yellow“X-Boy”
t-shirt together with a traditional ethnic Hui skullcap.
He explained that he enjoys listening to hip-hop
music and playing American and Japanese video
games, which he purchases mainly from street
vendors that specialize in pirated versions sold on
the black market. An occasional grafﬁtist, Jim re-
vealed that he derives great pleasure from spray-
painting his “tag” (i.e., a grafﬁti writer’s stylized
signature) on the walls of abandoned or vacant
buildings throughout the city.
Skateboarders that I spotted in Shanghai - clad in
baggy jeans and Western sports-team attire - openly
violated laws prohibiting their sport at a downtown
public park as they zipped back and forth across
sidewalks and nearby embankments. As one 16-year
old skater (“Terry”) informed me, skateboarding in
such prohibited locales is risky yet remains “a big
thrill.” As he observed, “The thrill is in doing
something that’s a little bit dangerous.” Wearing an
L.A. Lakers cap, he professed his admiration for the
team’s star player, Kobe Bryant. “He really knows
how to play ball, but doesn’t just do things the easy
way; he takes chances,” Terry observed.
“Clara,” a 24-year old hairstylist who identiﬁes
as linglei told me that for months she carried around
the book, Shanghai Baby, just to shock people. “I
don’t want a simple life,” she revealed. “I want some
excitement in my life.”
In this article I have contended that the emergence
and dissemination of Chinese youth subcultures with
decidedly eclectic features has been much more than
simply the result of Western-oriented globalization.
Certainly, Western popular culture has inﬁltrated
and strongly inﬂuenced the musical tastes, fashion,
and sensibilities of Chinese youth, as an unintended
consequence of liberalized trade and other economic
reforms instituted in the post-Mao era. However,
there has also been a concomitant synthesis of often-
contradictory principles and cultural objects from a
variety of social settings, helping to fuel the forma-
tion of glocal subcultures in China.
Young people, in particular, have engaged in bri-
colage; i.e., “the appropriation and recontextualiza-
tion of cultural items to communicate newmeanings”
(Muggleton 2000:3). In this regard, Western forms
of popular culture and various fashion accessories
have been adapted by youth to express their own
lived realities within China’s authoritarian - yet
transitional - society.
Most notably, yaogun was originally formulated
in the 1980s by groups of young people hybridizing
Western and Chinese musical characteristics covertly
on college campuses, thereby creating a new insur-
gent genre of music. Yaogun became the perfect so-
cial springboard fromwhich to launch an interactive
nationwide network of alienated, disenchanted youth.
Armed with bootleg tapes and cassette players, yao-
gun aﬁcionados disseminated their illicit musical
contraband throughout the country.
Informally waging a semiotic struggle against an
entrenched and presumably inauthentic music in-
dustry, yaogun subculturists gradually expanded their
concerns to include the realm of communist party
politics. The lyrical refrain of iconoclastic rock-an-
thems such as Ciu Jian’s “I Have Nothing” and
Mayday’s “Garbage Dump” facilitated the politiciz-
ation of youth at Tiananmen Square in 1989. But in
the aftermath of the military crackdown, there was
a renewed sense of caution and trepidation among
the vast majority of young people.
Accordingly, Chinese youth have gradually rein-
vented rebellion and found newand innovative ways
in which to express their displeasure with the post-
Tiananmen status quo. Hereafter emphasizing “cul-
tural” concerns while for the most part abandoning
overt political activism, many young people have
adapted to newpost-Tiananmen realities. Unconven-
tional fashion, music, and style have largely replaced
organized marches and overt political challenges to
the regime. New, more provocative, sub-genres of
Chinese rock have crystallized and gained under-
ground credibility in recent years, along with other
forms of “objectionable” popular culture, which have
in turn sparked the social construction and diffusion
of linglei as an “alternative” subcultural identity.
The need to feel “special” or “unique” in a country
that continues to have a populace committed to
maintaining social conformity and stability (espe-
cially among older cohort groups) inevitably encour-
ages subcultural afﬁliations among youth. The devel-
opment of a peer-based prestige economy within the
subcultures of xin xinrenlei and linglei, based on
various forms of subcultural capital, is clearly present
in China today and reﬂects the growing importance
that young people attach to securing enhanced levels
of status and respect from their peers.
Sentiments associated with hierarchic self-interest,
self-expression, and self-empowerment have been
shown to be direct motivators for respondents to
embrace the “cool” subcultural identities of xinrenlei
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 56
and linglei. But while most xin xinrenlei youths sur-
veyed professed their opposition to traditional values
associated with Maoism, they also appeared to relish
the materialistic opportunities offered by the new
market economy. In contrast, linglei respondents in-
dicated their displeasure not only with longstanding
traditions, but also with the negative externalities of
economic reform. Indeed, many linglei youths
seemed willing and even eager to criticize (at least
subtly) reform-era policies that have effectively
privileged a new class of Chinese yuppies.
In many respects, the prevalent style, sensibilities,
and behaviors of linglei youth are highly indicative
of “everyday forms of resistance,” to use Scott’s
(1990) terminology, which are based on a counter-
discourse that takes place largely “offstage;” i.e.,
beyond the normal purview of ofﬁcialdom. Such
covert or subtle acts, which could be described as
“unsafe cool,” are particularly appropriate when
participants are in a comparatively “weak” structural
position, as has been the case for a growing number
of young people. But such “weaknesses” can be
easily converted into strengths, especially when
groups of people are engaged collectively “in the
hidden realm of political conﬂict” (Lee 2000:45).
In sum, my ﬁndings indicate that many urban
Chinese young people have multifaceted concerns
but are responding primarily to their own perceived
individualized needs and personal objectives in de-
scribing themselves as either xin xinrenlei or linglei.
Most such respondents depicted dominant social
structures as inhibiting and constraining their uncon-
ventional expressions of distinctive individuality.
Due in large measure to a strong commitment to en-
hancing their own exceptionality and nonconformity,
coupled with anomic--induced feelings of alienation,
linglei youth in particular appear to be waging an
implicit semiotic struggle against both traditional
Chinese norms and reform-era communist policies
in the economy, society, and public education.
Austin, Joe. 2001. Taking the Train: How Grafﬁti Art Became an Urban Crisis in New York City. New York: Columbia
Bakken, Borge. 1995. “Editor’s Introduction.” Chinese Sociology and Anthropology 27(3).
Bakken, Borge. 2000. The Exemplary Society: Human Improvement, Social Control, and the Dangers of Modernity in
China. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Baranovitch, Nimrod. 2003. China’s New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997. Berkeley
and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Barden, Christopher. 1999. “I want my MTV…In Mandarin.” Beijing Scene.com5(4), accessed online at http://members.tri-
Barme, Geremie. 1992. “Ofﬁcial bad boys or true rebels?” Chinese Rock accessed online at www.nmis.org/Gate/ﬁlm.
Barme, Geremie. 1999. In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.
Beech, Hannah. 2004. “The new radicals.” Time.com accessed online at http://www.time.com/time/asia/cov-
Bennett, Andy. 1999. “Subcultures or neo-tribes? Rethinking the relationship between youth, style, and musical taste.” So-
Brake, Michael. 1985. Comparative Youth Culture: The Sociology of Youth Culture and Youth Subcultures in America,
Britain, and Canada. New York: Routledge.
Cao, Liqun and Yisheng Dai. 2001. “Inequality and crime in China.” In Crime and Social Control in a Changing China,
eds., Jianhong Liu, Lening Zhang, and Steven Messner. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
Condry, Ian. 2006. Hip Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham and London: Duke University
Curran, Daniel, and Sandra Cook. 1993. “Growing fears, rising crime: Juveniles and China’s justice system.” Crime and
De Kloet, Jeroen. 2005. “Popular music and youth in urban China: The dakou generation.” The China Quarterly 183.
Dittmer, Lowell. 1977. “‘Line struggle’ in theory and practice: The origins of the Cultural Revolution reconsidered.” The
China Quarterly 72.
Drissel, David. 2006. “Subterranean sources of juvenile delinquency in China: Evidence from birth cohort surveys.” Asian
Journal of Criminology 1(2).
Dutton, Michael. 1998. Streetlife China. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Elegant, Simon. 2007. “China’s Me Generation.” Time.com, accessed online at
Fan, Maureen. 2006. “Punks and posers in China.” Washington Post.com, accessed online at
Fang, Bay. 2006. “China’s next generation of yuppies.” U.S. News.com, accessed online at
Farrer, James. 1999. “Disco ‘super-culture’: Consuming foreign sex in the Chinese disco: Cosmopolitan dance culture and
cosmopolitan sexual culture.” Sexualities 2(147).
Farrer, James. 2002. Opening Up: Youth, Sex, Culture and Market Reformin Shanghai. Chicago and London: The University
of Chicago Press.
57 DAVID DRISSEL
Fine, Gary Alan. 2003. “Towards a peopled ethnography: developing theory from group life.” Ethnography 4.
Florcruz, Jaime. 2004. “China’s hip-hop dance craze,” CNN.com, accessed online at http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiap-
Geyer, Robert. 2002. “In love and gay.” In Popular China: Unofﬁcial Culture in a Globalizing Society, eds., Perry Link,
Richard P. Madsen, and Paul G. Pickowicz. Lanham, U.K.: Rowman and Littleﬁeld Publishers, Inc.
Gluckman, Ron. 2000. “Beijing’s Bruce has the blues: Beijing rocker wants to roll,” accessed online at www.gluck-
Hachigian, Nina. 2002. “The Internet and power in one-party East Asian states,” Washington Quarterly 25(3).
Hagan, John. 1991 “Destiny and drift: Subcultural preferences, status attainments and the risks and rewards of youth.”
American Sociological Review 56.
Hagan, John, Gerd Heﬂer, Gabriele Classen, Klaus Boehnke, and Hans Merkens. 1998. “Subterranean sources of subcultural
delinquency beyond the American dream,” Criminology 36 (2).
Hanser, Amy. 2002. “The Chinese enterprising self: Young, educated urbanites and the search for work.” In Popular China:
Unofﬁcial Culture in a Globalizing Society, eds., Perry Link, Richard P. Madsen, and Paul G. Pickowicz. Lanham,
U.K.: Rowman and Littleﬁeld Publishers, Inc.
Hebdige, Dick. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routlege.
Huot, Claire. 2000. China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes. Durham, NC and London, England: Duke Uni-
Johnston, Hank and David Snow 1998. “Subcultures and the emergence of the Estonian nationalist opposition 1945-1990.”
Sociological Perspectives 41(3).
Jones, Andrew F. 1992a. Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music. Ithaca, New York:
East Asia Program, Cornell University.
Jones, AndrewF. 1992b. “The politics of popular music in post-Tiananmen China.” In Popular Protest and Political Culture
in Modern China, eds., Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Elizabeth Perry. Boulder, San Francisco, and Oxford: Westview
Kahn, Richard and Douglas Kellner. 2003. “Internet subcultures and oppositional politics.” In The Post-Subcultures Reader,
eds., David Muggleton and Rupert Weinzierl. Oxford and New York: Berg.
Kang, Liu. 2004. Globalization and Cultural Trends in China. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.
Kong, Shuyu. 2005. Consuming Literature: Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Production in Contemporary
China. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Kwong, Julia. 1994. “Ideological crisis among China’s youths: Values and ofﬁcial ideology.” British Journal of Sociology.
Lee, Ching Kwan Lee. 2000. “Pathways of labor insurgency.” In Chinese Society: Change, Conﬂict and Resistance, eds.,
Elizabeth Perry and Mark Selden.
Levy, Richard. 2002. “Corruption in popular culture.” In Popular China: Unofﬁcial Culture in a Globalizing Society, eds.,
Perry Link, Richard P. Madsen, and Paul G. Pickowicz. Lanham, U.K.: Rowman and Littleﬁeld Publishers, Inc.
Loewenberg, Anna-Sophie. 2000. “Beijing punk emerges from underground.” Beijing Scene.com 5(24).
Martin, B. 1985. A Sociology of Contemporary Cultural Change, Oxford: Blackwell.
McPhail, Clark. 1994. “From clusters to arcs and rings: elementary forms of association in temporary gatherings.” Research
in Community Sociology Supplement 1.
Moore, Robert. 2005. “Generation Ku: Individualism and China’s millennial youth.” Ethnology.
Movius, Lisa. 1998. “Popular Culture in China.” Chinese Popular Culture, accessed online at www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Har-
Muggleton, David. 2000. Inside Subculture: The Postmodern Meaning of Style. Oxford, England and New York, NY: Berg.
Murphey, Rhoads. 2001. East Asia: A New History. New York: Longman Publishing, 2001.
Nilan, Pam and Carles Feixa. 2006. “Introduction: youth hybridity and plural worlds.” In Global Youth? Hybrid Identities,
Plural Worlds. eds., Pam Nilan and Carles Feixa. New York: Routledge.
Osnos, Evan. 2008. “Angry Youth: The new generation’s neocon nationalists.” The New Yorker, accessed online at
Perry, Elizabeth J. and Mark Selden. 2000. Chinese Society: Change, Conﬂict, and Resistance. London and New York:
Scott, James. 1990. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven and London: Yale University
Sue, Chun. 2002. Beijing Doll. New York: Riverhead Books.
Tannenbaum, Rob. 1998. “Wok n’ Roll: Why punk bands are the foot soldiers in China’s next Cultural Revolution.” Spin
Thornton, Sarah. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity.
Thornton, Sarah. 1997. “The Social Logic of Subcultural Capital.” In The Subcultures Reader, eds., Ken Gelder and Sarah
Thornton. London and New York: Routledge.
Tong, Shen. 1990. Almost a Revolution. Boston: University of Michigan Press.
Trindle, Jamila. 2003. “Made in China: hip-hop moves east.” NPR Music, accessed online at
Wang, Jiang. 2008. Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts and
London: Harvard University Press.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL SCIENCES, VOLUME 3 58
Wasserstrom, Jeffrey. 1992. “History, Myth, and Tales of Tiananmen.” In Popular Protest and Political Culture in Modern
China, eds., Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Elizabeth Perry. Boulder, San Francisco, and Oxford: Westview Press.
Weber, Florence. 2001. “Settings, interactions and things: A plea for multi-integrative ethnography,” Ethnography 2(4).
Weeks, J. 1990. “The value of difference.” In Identity, Community Culture, Difference, ed., J. Rutherford. London: Lawrence
Wei, Hui. 1999. Shanghai Baby. New York and London: Washington Square Press.
Weinzierl, Rupert and David Muggleton. 2003. “What is ‘post-subcultural studies’ anyway?” In The Post-Subcultures
Reader, eds., David Muggleton and Rupert Weinzierl. Oxford and New York: Berg.
Wu, Fulong. 2004. “Urban poverty and marginalization under market transition: The Case of Chinese Cities.” International
Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28(2).
Xiang, Guo. 1999. “Delinquency and its Prevention in China.” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative
Zha, Jianying. 1996. China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers are Transforming a Culture. New York: New
Zhang, Lening, Steven F. Messner, Zhou Lu, Xiaogang Deng. 1997. “Gang crime and its punishment in China.” Journal
of Criminal Justice 25(4).
Zissis, Carin, and Preetl Bhattacharji, 2008 “Media censorship in China.” Council on Foreign Relations website accessed
About the Author
Prof. David Drissel
David Drissel is a professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His
undergraduate work included a double-major in political science and sociology and his graduate studies focused
on comparative politics, international relations, and social change and development. Research interests include
the global politics of Internet governance, transnational social movements, post-communist/post-socialist
countries in transition, computer-mediated communication and society, youth subcultures and social deviance,
and the utilization of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is
a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among
many other countries. He is an alumnus of the Oxford (University) Roundtable in Great Britain, where he
presented a paper on Internet governance. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several
papers published in various academic journals and compilations.
59 DAVID DRISSEL
Mary KaIantzis, University of Ìllinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA.
BiII Cope, University of Ìllinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA.
EDÌTORÌAL ADVÌSORY BOARD
Patrick Baert, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.
Norma Burgess, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY, USA.
VangeIis Intzidis, University of the Aegean, Rhodes.
PauI James, RMÌT University, Melbourne, Australia.
José Luis Ortega Martín, Universidad de Granada, Spain.
Francisco Fernandez PaIomares, Universidad de Granada, Spain.
MigueI A. Pereyra, Universidad de Granada, Spain.
Constantine D. SkordouIis, University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
Chryssi VitsiIakis-Soroniatis, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece.
Please visit the Journal website at http://www.SocialSciences-Journal.com
for further information about the Journal or to subscribe.
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS JOURNALS
InternationaI JournaI of the Arts in Society
Creates a space for dialogue on innovative theories and practices in the arts, and their inter-relationships with society.
InternationaI JournaI of the Book
Explores the past, present and future of books, publishing, libraries, information, literacy and learning in the information
society. ÌSSN: 1447-9567
Design PrincipIes and Practices: An InternationaI JournaI
Examines the meaning and purpose of 'design' while also speaking in grounded ways about the task of design and the
use of designed artefacts and processes. ÌSSN: 1833-1874
InternationaI JournaI of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations
Provides a forum for discussion and builds a body of knowledge on the forms and dynamics of difference and diversity.
InternationaI JournaI of EnvironmentaI, CuIturaI, Economic and SociaI SustainabiIity
Draws from the various fields and perspectives through which we can address fundamental questions of sustainability.
GIobaI Studies JournaI
Maps and interprets new trends and patterns in globalization. ÌSSN 1835-4432
InternationaI JournaI of the Humanities
Discusses the role of the humanities in contemplating the future and the human, in an era otherwise dominated by
scientific, technical and economic rationalisms. ÌSSN: 1447-9559
InternationaI JournaI of the IncIusive Museum
Addresses the key question: How can the institution of the museum become more inclusive? ÌSSN 1835-2014
InternationaI JournaI of InterdiscipIinary SociaI Sciences
Discusses disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge creation within and across the various social
sciences and between the social, natural and applied sciences.
InternationaI JournaI of KnowIedge, CuIture and Change Management
Creates a space for discussion of the nature and future of organisations, in all their forms and manifestations.
InternationaI JournaI of Learning
Sets out to foster inquiry, invite dialogue and build a body of knowledge on the nature and future of learning.
InternationaI JournaI of TechnoIogy, KnowIedge and Society
Focuses on a range of critically important themes in the various fields that address the complex and subtle relationships
between technology, knowledge and society. ÌSSN: 1832-3669
JournaI of the WorId Universities Forum
Explores the meaning and purpose of the academy in times of striking social transformation.
FOR SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.