American Journal of Cultural Sociology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 197–220 | Cite as

Mass media and the localization of emotional display: The case of China’s Next Top Model

  • Junhow Wei
Original Article


Few studies have explored the relationship between globalization and emotional expression. One prominent means through which physical forms of emotional display circulate globally is through the mass media, and specifically through the reality television format trade. Whether local people can successfully perform globally circulating forms of emotional display depends, in part, on how local audiences receive their performances. Globally circulating forms might convey meanings that conflict with local public values or media regulators’ ideologies. Audience approval is facilitated through textual framing strategies that reflect producers’ directorial and editorial choices. Drawing on an analysis of the television program China’s Next Top Model, I describe three strategies that frame emotional displays in ways that align their meanings with local ideologies and cultural values: (i) defining what caused the feelings that led to the emotional display as culturally appropriate, (ii) portraying the emotional display as not reflecting the performers’ true feelings and (iii) ensuring that the performers’ feelings are resolved within the show’s narrative in an appropriate manner. Framing strategies are mechanisms through which global formats and local culture jointly shape mass-mediated emotional performances.


globalization emotions mass media reality television China hybridity 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junhow Wei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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