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Perspectives on the concept of marriage in China : a discourse analysis of chat show commentators' talk about reality dating shows

English Abstract

The dating phenomenon in China has sparked a boom in reality dating shows to the extent that they have become a salient topic for discussion on Chinese television. These shows reflect many of the real problems relating to marriage and courtship experienced by people in their daily lives and particularly resonate with young people experiencing tensions between factors such as changing roles in society, traditional cultural values, and the desire for emotional fulfillment. The focus of this research is on the perspectives of reality dating show viewers on courtship and marriage in China, drawing on transcripts from chat show discussions on reality dating shows. This study not only concerns itself with the dating show itself but also considers the ways the audience engages with the content. In this case, a specialized audience constituted of chat show commentators who are both experts in their respective fields and interested viewers of reality dating shows. Discourse analysis is used to explore the ways the audience constructs meaning and orients to the concept of marriage in the context of a rapidly changing Chinese society. The mass media is an important influence on the values of individuals, and dating shows in particular play a significant role in the construction of discourses around the concept of marriage. It is suggested here that reality dating shows provide a stage for a younger generation challenging the social norms and traditional discourses around marriage and as such constitute a rich new site for study into the changing concept of marriage amongst the “post-80’s” young people in China.

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Zhu, Hao


Faculty of Social Sciences


Department of Communication




Marriage -- China

Mate selection -- China

Man-woman relationships -- China


Sandel, Todd L.

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