Local Embeddedness, Domestification, and Capital Displacement: The Case of Offline Media
This chapter takes a close look at China’s soft power dilemma in South Korea and Japan. In particular, the chapter comparatively explores the contexts and ways in which China’s mediatized soft power, via offline TV series, fails to reach transnational South Korean and Japanese audiences. The concept of local embeddedness, both in the source and receiving countries, highlights the domestic factors that might inhibit the further export of Chinese TV series to the foreign country, and under what conditions such barriers in the importing country could be overcome. The second part of this chapter explores local Japanese contexts that China’s soft power, via TV series, fails to reach for Japanese audiences. The Japanese case shows that Japanese audiences widely interpret Chinese TV series as highly politicized, but with low cultural and economic capital. This chapter investigates how locally embedded consumption creates weak conditions that barely influence Japanese audiences to become Chinese soft power consumers. Japanese audiences are skeptical of such media, believing that Chinese TV series are marked by highly political capital and offer low cultural and economic capital.
Whereas South Korean audiences see imported offline Chinese TV series as associated with high historical capital, but lacking a high level of cultural capital or aesthetic capital as well as economic capital and technological capital, Japanese audiences see them as historical and political without aesthetic or cultural capital. In the transnational soft power fields of both South Korea and Japan, the absence of diversified forms of capital in Chinese television series converts to ineffective soft power.
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