Hegemony and counter-hegemony: The politics of dialects in TV programs in China

Xiaoling Zhang*, Zhenzhi Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study positions dialect TV programs in the realm of communication as a major site of not only political and ideological contestations but also negotiation between the party-state and media organizations in and around communication policies and practices. It goes beyond the control argument to look at the newly formed relationship of interaction and negotiation, which is not only mutually transformative but also opens up different possibilities for political development in China. Supported by close examinations of two dialect TV programs using in-depth interviews and content analysis, this study answers three critical questions: Why has the state regulator failed to stop dialect TV programs? What are the factors that bring about policy changes even though they are minor? Does the use of dialects in TV programs constitute counter-hegemonic forces? We argue that it is simplistic to conclude that the state has failed to stop the use of dialects in TV programs and that negotiation, the newly developed relationship between the state and media organizations, plays an important part in bringing about media policy changes even though they are minor. It also concludes that although they have limitations, dialect programs provide audiences opportunities for alternatives to state messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-315
Number of pages16
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • TV program
  • counter-hegemony
  • dialect
  • hegemony
  • negotiation

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